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November 15: Samuel Klein’s Casas Bahia Empire

Samuel Klein, who survived the Maidenek concentration camp and became the creator of Brazil’s largest retail merchandiser, Casas Bahia, was born in Poland on this date in 1923. Klein, one of nine children, lost his mother and five younger siblings to Treblinka. He escaped from a forced march in 1944, lived for a number of […]

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March 13: Bruno Bettelheim

Bruno Bettelheim, a Viennese Freudian psychologist who survived nearly two years in Buchenwald and Dachau and went on to become a worldwide authority on autism and the emotional lives of children — although his theories were incorrect and venal towards mothers — died a suicide at age 86 on this date in 1990. (His suicide […]

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July 14: Escape through the Sewers of Warsaw

The sole woman within the high command of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Zivia Lubetkin died in Israel at age 61 on this date in 1976. Born and raised in Poland, Lubetkin was a leader in the leftwing Zionist youth movement and was one of the brave young Jews who left […]

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July 4: Aftershock of the Holocaust

The Kielce Pogrom, in which a mob of Polish police officers and civilians murdered at least 42 Jews, took place on this date in 1946. Kielce, in southeastern Poland, had been occupied by 24,000 Jews, one third of the town’s population, prior to the Holocaust. Two hundred Jewish survivors had returned to or settled in […]

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Those Who Survived

They Rarely Did It Alone by Robert Oppenheimer From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents MY FATHER ALFRED, my Aunt Ruth, and their parents Ella and Willie lived in Cologne, Germany in the 1920s and ’30s. As a young boy, my father more than once saw from his bedroom window violent incidents in which […]

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April 26: The Boxer in Auschwitz

Salamo Arouch, a champion Greek boxer who survived for two years in Auschwitz by boxing and defeating more than two hundred other prisoners for the entertainment and betting pleasure of their Nazi captors, died in Israel at 86 on this date in 2009. Arouch had been the middleweight champion of Greece (1938) and the Balkans […]

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“Stealth Altruism” in the Camps

Neglected Stories of Forbidden Care by Arthur Shostak IT IS HARD to imagine an American whose grasp of the Holocaust could not be significantly improved by reading just three pages (pp. 106-109) of a memoir written in 2001 by survivor Ruth Kluger. In 1942, when she was just 12, Ruth was a minute or two […]

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January 17: Surviving Chelmno

Among the three survivors of the Chelmno extermination camp in Poland was Mordechai Zurawski, who gave the following testimony about this night in 1945 at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961: Q. In January 1945, they put all of you, all who remained there, to death?   A. Yes. On 17 January, at night, […]

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Sharing Care Amid the Holocaust — Why the Neglect?

by Arthur Shostak What do you recall having learned about the experience of Jewish prisoners in the concentration camps, other than horrific tales of suffering and unnatural death, along with defeated heroic efforts at revolt? What have you learned about high-risk, shared caring in the camps; about forbidden aid, based in compassion; about clandestine exchanges […]

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August 19: Bueno de Mesquita

Dutch comedian and television artist Abraham (‘Appie’) Bueno de Mesquita died in Lelystad, his hometown, at age 87 on this date in 2005. Mesquita’s shtik included making funny faces, which saved his life during the Holocaust when the commander of the concentration camp in Belgium where Mesquita was imprisoned (and was about to be deported […]

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