Saturday July 21, 2018

Escape and Survival: Stories of Descendants of Holocaust Survivors

On the onset of World War II, many Jewish refugees and residents applied for exit visas via Japan to escape the genocide.

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Men striped off their pride. A group of some 25 naked, severely malnutritioned Soviet prisoners of war standing in three. Image source: Wikipedia
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https://youtu.be/KyVi2Wsql3s

Coming just two decades after the last great global conflict, the Second World War was the most widespread and deadliest war in history, involving more than 30 countries and resulting in more than 50 million military and civilian deaths (with some estimates as high as 85 million dead). Sparked by Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, the war went on for six deadly years until the final Allied defeat of both Nazi Germany and Japan in 1945.

“I am really lucky to be sheltered from war” says Arielle Salomon, a holocaust survivor descendant. When Germany invaded Poland, her grandfather Abram Salomon fled to Lithuania to escape the holocaust (extermination by the Nazis). “Whole family was murdered except him and his brother, and that survival was due to one man- Chiune Sugihara” she adds.

Night and fog (1955) is one such documentary that gives us a glimpse of the untold fear and unspoken suffering of the Jews  in the concentration camps.

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat posted at the Japanese consulate in Lithuania. On the onset of World War II, many Jewish refugees and residents applied for exit visas via Japan to escape the genocide. Disobeying the government orders, Chiune Sugihara and his wife issued as many as 6000 visas in 1940 one of which was Arielle’s grandfather. They estimated around 40,000 descendants that are alive today because of this man. But after the war, when Sugihara returned home, he was ignored by the Japan government for his actions. He did not seek attention and rarely spoke about his experience.

This photo shows Germans hiding the dead bodies. Image source: Wikipedia
This photo shows Germans hiding the dead bodies. Image source: Wikipedia

“I think he really exemplified not doing it for the accolades but doing what he thought was right” says Shoshana Buchholz-Miller, Illinois Holocaust Museum.  He was given the Honor of The Righteous Among the Nations, one of Israel’s highest honors. “Hero? I think he doesn’t want to be a hero, he just did what needed to be done” Chihiro Sugihara (grandson of Chuine Sugihara)

“It is something very emotionally overwhelming” Arielle Salomon after meeting the grandson of Sugihara to express her gratitude directly.

After his heroic act, he came to be known as a ‘Japanese Schindler’.  Chuine Sugihara was a good grandfather to a few but a savior to many more.

-by Vrushali Mahajan

Vrushali is pursuing her graduation in Journalism and is an intern at NewsGram. You can reach the author at twitter- Vrushali Mahajan 

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is really an amazing job done by Mr Sugihara. Going against the government and helping people out of sheer humanity is what he did and saved almost 40,000 lives

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Arun Jaitely Says Indira Gandhi Was No Different Than Hitler

The BJP leader said the 42nd Amendment diluted the power of High Courts to issue writ petitions

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Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely
Harsh Penal Proceedings For Illegal Swiss Bank Deposit Holders: Arun Jaitely. flickr
Indira Gandhi Imposed Emergency. Flickr
Indira Gandhi Imposed Emergency. Flickr

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday compared former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who imposed Emergency, to Hitler, stating that both used the Constitution “to transform democracy into dictatorship”. Jaitley, whose second blog of a three-part series coincided with the 43rd anniversary of imposition of the Emergency, also noted that unlike the German dictator, Gandhi went ahead to transform India into a “dynastic democracy”.

“Both Hitler and Gandhi never abrogated the Constitution. They used a republican Constitution to transform democracy into dictatorship,” he said. The BJP leader said Gandhi imposed Emergency under Article 352, suspended fundamental rights under Article 359 and claimed that disorder was planned by the opposition.

Jaitley said Hitler, who became the German Chancellor on January 30, 1933, got his President to invoke Article 48 of the country’s Constitution which gave emergency powers for the “protection of people in the State”. “The decree giving emergency powers put restrictions on personal liberty, free speech… The pretext for imposition of Emergency was that on February 27, 1933, German Parliament House, known as ‘Reichstag’, had been set on fire.

“Hitler claimed that it was a communist conspiracy to burn Government buildings and museums. Thirteen years later, in the Nuremberg trials, it was established that Reichstag fire was the handiwork of Nazis and Goebbels had conceived it.” He said Hitler arrested most opposition MPs.

“Indira Gandhi arrested most opposition MPs and, therefore, procured, through their absence, a two-third majority of members present and voting and enabling the passage of several obnoxious provisions through Constitution amendments,” Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said the 42nd Amendment diluted the power of High Courts to issue writ petitions, “a power which Dr. (B.R.) Ambedkar had said was the very heart and soul of India’s Constitution”. “They also amended Article 368 so that a Constitution amendment was beyond judicial review. There were a few things that Hitler did not do which Gandhi did.

 

“She prohibited the publication of Parliamentary proceeding in the media. The law which gave mandate to the media for publishing Parliamentary proceedings was popularly known as the Feroze Gandhi Bill,” he said. Since Hitler’s own election has been set aside, he had no change to make in this regard.

Also read: ‘1984 riots shut our doors to a better life’ (October 31 is the 32nd anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s assassination)

“Gandhi amended both the Constitution and the Representation of People Act. The Constitution amendment made the election of the Prime Minister non-justiciable before a court. “The Representation of People Act was retrospectively amended to insert those provisions so that the invalid election of Gandhi could be validated by changes in law.” He said amendments to the constitution made during Emergency were later reversed by the Janata Party government. (IANS)