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August 27, 1965 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-08-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Gerhard Riegner Worthy of 'Order of Jewish Honor'

BY JOSEF FRAENKEL

(Jewish News London Correspondent)

Theodor Herzl had in mind the
bestowal of a decoration upon the
best Jews. This order was meant
to emulate the pattern of the Le-
gion d'Honneur, and to be called
"Judenehre" (Jewish Honor). "It
will be worn on a yellow ribbon
and thus we shall transform our
old shame into our new honor,"
wrote Herzl.
Gerhard M. Riegner would have
been eligible for the "Order
of Jewish Honor" because of the
services rendered by him in
Geneva during the war years.
Gerhard Riegner, born in 1911,
comes from a distinguished Ger-
man-Jewish family. His father, a
lawyer, engaged in politics, had
been a friend, since the days of
their youth, of Hugo Preuss who as
minister of the interior had taken
a share in the drafting of the
Weimar Constitution in 1919. He
was a relative of Louis Lewandow-
ski, the well-known author of the
liturgical songs "Kol rinah ute-
phila" and reformer of the syna-
gogical service in Germany, and of
Prof. Hermann Cohen, the Jewish
philosopher of religion and prota-
gonist of neo-Kantianism. As a
child Riegner used to spend. every
Sunday in Cohen's house where he
could meet scholars from all over
the world visiting the great don.
Riegner read law and political
science at the universities of Ber-
lin, Heidelberg, Freiburg, and
Paris, as well as international law
at Geneva and The Hague. He com-
pleted his studies with extraordi-
nary success. When he was about
to start on his career as a philoso-
pher of legal science his life took
a new turn. Nahum Goldmann look-
ed in 1936 for a young legal ad-
viser who could serve as secretary
of the Geneva office of the World
Jewish Congress. The secretary's
work would mainly be concerned
with the protection of the Jewish
minorities within the frame of the
League of Nations' corresponding
department.
Goldmann asked three profes-
sors, William Rappart, Hans Kel-

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sen and Paul Guggenheim, for
their suggestion and all three of
them recommended Gerhard Rieg-
ner. In August 1936, he arrived at
the assembly convened for the
foundation of the World Jewish
Congress and was appointed secre-
tary of the bureau in Geneva. His
office brought him in contact with
Jewish leaders in nearly every
country.
Geneva became the headquar-
ters of the legal department un-
der Goldmann who had at his
side Paul Guggenheim as coun-
sel and Riegner as secretary.
Nearly 30 years later at the ses-
sion of the members of the execu-
tive of the World Jewish Congress
at Strasbourg Riegner began his
address with a moving obituary of
Kaete Knopfmacher who had re-
cently passed away. Kaete Knopf-
macher had been the first official
of the World Jewish Congress. She
had actually stood by the cradle
of the World Jewish Congress and
was deeply imbued with the will to
serve its cause. When Riegner
spoke the image of this wonderful
woman arose in the mind of those
who had been with her in Geneva
in 1936. It was she who had help-
ed many distressed Jews living in
Nazi Germany or in the occupied
territories to get away.
In the middle of 1942 Riegner
was informed from a reliable
source that in the presence of Hit-
ler a plan of extermination of all
Jews at the hands of the Nazis
had been discussed. Riegner moved
heaven and earth to warn the

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world of the Nazis' secret decision
to murder millions of Jews in the
occupied territories.
In August 1942, he put himself
in contact with the American and
English consuls in order to have
this information conveyed to Lon-
don and New York. When Sydney
S. Silvermann in London and Ste-
phen S. Wise in New York even-
tually had received the news the
world too could hear of the dread-
ful plan. The dramatic story of
how Riegner came into possession
of the information and how the
World Jewish Congress raised the
alarm in England and America
has been told in the Diaries of
Henry Morgenthau, in the autobio-
graphy of Stephen S. Wise, and in
some other books. Riegner's next
reports (19'a3) later, after many
difficulties and much tragic delay,
caused President Roosevelt to
found the War Refugee Board in
Washington as an instrument for
the rescue of thousands of Jews
during the last nine months of the
war. Riegner conducted the nego-
tiations with the International Red
Cross and acted in many other
ways to provide help for Jews,
above all for Jewish children.
From 1936 to 1965 Goldmann as-
signed more and more responsibili-
ties to Riegner. He was a member
of the delegation of the World
Jewish Congress at the Peace Con-
ference in Paris in August, 1946,
he took part in the work of the sub-
committee of the Commission of
Human Rights, in UNESCO, IRO
(International Refugees Organiza-
tion), ECOSOC (Economic and So-
cial Council) etc, and held honor-
ary positions in international and
Jewish organizations. He has visit-
ed nearly every country and has
become acquainted with the anxie-
ties of the Jewish communities. In
co-operation with others he is still
hard at work to solve the problems
of these communities. Riegner en-
joys the confidence of the organi-
zations and communities affiliated
to the World Jewish Congress. At
the session in Strasbourg he was
unanimously elected secretary
general of the World Jewish Con-
gress.

Johnson Names Professor
to State Dept. Office

WASHINGTON ( J T A )—Presi-
dent Johnson has nominated Dr.
Charles Frankel, Columbia Univer-
sity philosophy professor, as assis-
tant secretary of state for educa-
tional and cultural affairs. The 47-
year-old Jewish scholar and writer
will replace Harry McPherson, who
was named a full time special as-
sistant to the President.

Harry Thomas

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PONTIAC, MICHIGAN

Israel Goodman, Rabbi

Unaffiliated residents of Pontiac and the suburbs are
welcome to worship with us and to join our membership.
Our Sunday School classes start with the Kindergarten

class: (Age 5) through Confirmation.

Week day Hebrew School, Bar and Bas Mitzvah, and
Junior Congregation.

Youth and Adult Activities for all age groups.

For Synagogue particulars contact
Rabbi Israel Goodman, FEd. 4-4149

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Membership Chairman,
Irving Prizant, FE 4-7031 or FE 4-4602

High Holiday Tickets,
Melvin Goldman, FE 5-2431

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CONGREGATION B'NAI MOSHE

B'NAI MOSHE
RELIGIOUS
SCHOOL

ANNOUNCES

REGISTRATION FOR
1965-66
ACADEMIC YEAR

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
12—Friday, August 27, 1965

YOUNG ISRAEL CENTER OF OAK-WOODS

Open Sunday 11 to 4

When the righteous die, they
live; for their example lives. .

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Tickets available for members August 29-Sept. 3

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Evennigs 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

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Talmud Torah — Second through

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Classes Begin Sunday September 19

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As a Service to the Community

Students of Non-Members Are Accepted

Membership Applications Accepted

Affiliated with United Hebrew Schools

Phone the synagogue office for school
registration and membership information.

Transportation Provided

LI 8-9000

Enroll Now — Call 546-6662

Limited Number of Seats Available
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We Conduct A Complete Youth .

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