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August 11, 1978 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-08-11

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

56 Friday, hoist 11, 1978


New York's Leo Baeck Institute Preserves German-Jewish Past

NEW YORK — The Jews
of Germany, Austria and
other German-speaking
areas had a long and illus-
trious history that came to a
fiery end with the Third
Reich. It is at the Leo Baeck
Institute, a research center
in New York, that much of
the work of collecting, re-
cording and preserving all
that pertains to that history
is carried out.
The Jewish Welfare Fed-
eration of Metropolitan De-
troit helps aid the Leo
Baeck Institute through
contributions it makes to
the Joint Cultural Appeal,
the umbrella organization
which channels the support
of organized Jewish com-
munities in America to the
cultural efforts of its nine
members, which include the
Founded in 1955, the in-
stitute is manifold: a re-
search and study center
utilized by students and
_scholars from throughout
the world, a library and
archives and a museum.
While sister institutes exist

in London and Jerusalem,
only the New York LBI
houses a library, number-
ing 50,000 volumes; and a
comprehensive archives
which is considered the out-
standing documentation
center of its kind in the
Western Hemisphere.

More than 3,000 library
volumes tell the story of
almost every Jewish
community in Germany.
Others present the gen-
eral history of German
Jewry or deal with theol-
ogy, philosophy and lit-

The library also includes

Jewish National Fund

zled, weatherbeaten and
burnt brown to the texture
of old leather by the sun and
the wind, you will find them
in the hills beyond the
farthest roads; digging here
and planting there, another
sapling in the snow, another
tree in the desert, another
orchard in the wilderness.

A JNF Forester
They are the prototype of
the old foresters — the men
that make Israel green.
It has been rightfully said
that almost every tree in Is-
rael was planted by hand,
and that each tree of every
grove and forest covering
the once desolate hills of a
generation ago, has its own
identity. But what of the
men who planted them?
Few know their identity.
Not long ago, in the
South Africa Forest of
Lower Galilee, we caught
a glimpse of the men who
have unobtrusively af-

Among other rarities are
pamphlets by Luther about
the Jews, nearly all the first
editions of works by the
philosopher Moses Men-
delssohn and the poet Hein-
rich Heine, and many of the
early classics of Zionism.
The LBI sponsors re-
search projects, hosts a
monthly faculty seminar,
has published more than

100 books in English, Ger-
man and Hebrew, and con-
tinually utilizes its re-
sources to present aspects of
German-Jewish history to
the interested layman.

In addition to lectures,
the past is brought to life
through changing mini-
exhibits of material from
the institute's collections.
Displays of personal cor-
respondence, documents
and other original mate-
rial have provided vis-
itors with glimpses into
the lives of such
luminaries as Albert
Einstein and Heinrich

Heine, as well as the life
of German Jewry both
during the 18th Century
and the dark days of the
Nazi era.
By supplementing its own
collections with loans, the
LBI has been able to present
major exhibits on Franz
Kafka, Nobel Laureate
Nelly Sachs and the pain-
ters Max Liebermann and
Lesser Ury.
The stories of how new
material reaches the insti-
tute is often as fascinating
as the material itself. Last
year, for example, a friend
of the LBI visited the insti-
tute. Before leaving, he

handed the director several
"You might be interested
in having these," he said. In
the familiar and easily rec-
ognizable handwriting of
Franz Kafka, the envelopes
were addressed to Felice
Bauer, Kafka's first fiancee.
"You may not know it," the
visitor remarked, "but I am
Felice's son."

A review of Leonard
Baker's "Days of Sor-
row and Pain — Leo
Baeck and the Berlin
Jews," by Dr. Leon
Frain appears on page
12 of this issue.

Governments Welcome, Public Banned

Unmarked Berlin Archives Hold Tons of Nazi Files

State Department is still
sitting on tons of Nazi re-
cords of mill ions of Germans
stored behind barbed wire
in an unmarked archive in a
West Berlin suburb, accord-
ing to an Associated Press

Making Israel Green


family histories, business
reports about enterprises
owned by Jews, and a rare
collection of more than 700
periodicals from the 19th
and 20th Centuries — many
of them very rare.

forested this country
from the sands of the
northern Negev to the
cold hills of the Golan.
Many of them are long
past retirement age, early
immigrants from North Af-
rica and Yemen who came
to Israel a generation ago.
Upon their arrival in the
late '40's and early '50's,
they were unskilled labor-
ers seeking work.
Given employment by the
Jewish National Fund, they
have stayed with the JNF
ever since.
Day in and day out, in
sun, rain, snow and sleet,
they begin at 6:30 a.m.
Trucks collect them from
their homes and take them
to their work in the sur-
rounding regions. They
clear and prepare the
ground, digging holes for
the saplings in summer and
planting them in winter.
A single team of eight
men can plant 1,500 trees,
or an acre of forest, each
day. Multiply this by do-
zens of similar teams,
working throughout the
country, and one grasps
how the blank spaces of
Israel's desolate places
have been turned into
magnificent forests; de-
lightful to the visitor, a
boon to the public, an im-
provement of the ecology
and the quality of life.
The prototype of the
"young" old forester, going
on 70 strong as an ox, and
healthier than a city dwel-
ler half his age, has made its
place in the emerging
folklore of a modern Israel.

"There's nothing clas-
sified here, though a lot of it
is sensitive, and contrary to
what a lot of people think,
we aren't protecting Nazis,"
says Dan Simon, the retired
U.S. Army major in charge
of the Berlin Document
The center is closed to the
general public. Simon says
access is restricted to
"friendly Western govern-
ments" and scholars with
credentials from a univer-
sity or a sponsoring profes-
"We don't answer private
inquiries, and we try to keep
the press out of here," he

The Americans have
copied files they wanted
and once set a date to
transfer the center to the
West German govern-
ment. But the Germans
backed off, although they
have free access to it and
pay its expenses.

Karl-Heinz Hansen, a So-
cial Democratic member of
parliament, says he sus-
pects the West German gov-
ernment does not want to
take the center over because
it "wants to cover up for per-
sonalities of public life who
are former Nazis."
In the center's files, cap-
tured by Allied forces as the
Third Reich collapsed, are
Nazi Party membership re-
cords and correspondence,
records of the SS special
police and the brown-
shirted storm troopers of the
SA, documents on Germans
from abroad who resettled
in Germany during the Nazi
years and records of Nazi
courts and cultural officials.
A shelf with bound lists of
SS men and women who
staffed the concentration
camps is usually the first
stop for Israeli officials.

"These people kept re-
cords of just incredible

things," says Simon,
thumbing through old
Nazi court records.
"They would send people
to camps, obviously to be
liquidated, and put down
their names, when they
arrived, and what the
quota was for that day."

One file contains a wit-
ness's written statement
approving the plans of SS
man Karl Koch and his
fiancee, Ilse, to marry.
Later they ran the concent-
ration camp at Buchenwald,
and she had lampshades
made of human skin.
Wooden filing cabinets
hold records of 10.7 million
Germans who joined the
Nazi Party, all but a few
hundred thousands in the
party's last years. They
were captured at a pulp mill
near Munich, waiting to be
destroyed. Also captured
were loyalty files on
teachers, doctors, policemen
and others in special clas-

There are records of
some 600,000 SS officers,
enlisted men and women.
Some are singed from at-
tempts at burning.
Nearby are files of
250,000 SS members who
had to prove there were
no Jews in their lineage
so they could marry and
have children.
Another room holds 1.5
million files of correspon-
dence among party officials,
some of it on red-trimmed
Nazi stationery.
Records of the Reich Cul-
ture Chamber include
500,000 files on writers,
musicians, filmmakers and
other artists.
A. force of 300 used to
work at sorting the files.
The job is still not finished,
says Simon, but the staff is
down to 34 and he is the only
The center handles 3,000
to 4,000 information re-
quests a month. Simon says
70 percent come from West

German officials.
The State Department
took over the center from
the Army in 1952, after
the files had been used
for Allied war crimes
trials and de-Naxification
proceedings. Fenced and
guarded, it stands
alongside a park and
pond at the end of a quiet
street named Water Bee-

tie Path, in a wooded sec-
tion of suburban Zehlen-

Beneath the buildings are
tunnels and underground
chambers from which the
SS once tapped Berliners'
telephone lines.
The only sign visible out-
side is one telling visitors to
show their passes at a guar-
dhouse near the sidewalk.

Regional Center in Desert


cost of $2.6 million, the new
plant was designed to proc-
ess and pack 100 tons of
vegetables a day. The veg-
etables — green peppers
from the surrounding set-
tlements — are sorted ac-
cording to size and quality,
weighed, cleaned and boxed
by computerized control
By July and August of which regulates practically
next year, Mercaz Sapir, everything in the plant
being built primarily as a from the moment the yield
service center for the four is brought in to the moment
Arava settlements of it is packed, stacked and
Hazeva, Ein Yahav, Tsofar ready to be trucked out.
and Paran, will have an
The plant is staffed by 120
elementary school, a police people, mostly unskilled
station, medical clinic,
laborers from Dimona. The
supermarket, theater and technical staff will live at
Mercaz Sapir. Also operat-
Shops will line its main ing is a plant for processing
street, and 200 spacious grain food for livestock.
apartments — 50 of which
In the near future an-
are in the final stages of other packing plant de-
construction — are being
signed exclusively for ex-
built by the Housing Minis- port flowers is to be set up.
try for the first 100 families,
The preparation of the
expected to move in within a
land infrastructure for the
matter of months.
new regional center was
The pride ofMercaz Sapir carried out by JNF which
is its ultra-modern com- has reclaimed 125 acres at
puterized packing plant the site and will undertake
built on land cleared by the the landscape gardening of
Jewish National Fund. An the center at a later stage of
impressive building of some its development through
53,500 square feet, built at a the planting of shade trees.
• •

Jewish National Fund

center of the regional coun-
cil at Mercaz Sapir in the
central Arava will soon be
the area's first semi-urban
community to be built be-
tween Eilat and the Dead

JDC Appointee

Henry Rosenbaum was ap-
pointed recently as project
implementor of the Joint
Distribution Committee in


A new computerized packing plant at Mercaz Sapir

in the Arava.

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