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March 11, 1983 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-03-11

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2 Friday, March 11, 1983


Purely Commentary

The Credo of a Surviving
Scholar and the Lessons
Derived from the Holocaust

The lessons of the Holocaust are never-ending. The
historian keeps being tested. The sociologist is often
agonized. The memories are terrifying.
Another of the very eminent survivors has just spoken,
and he expresses his views with an abundance of recollec-
tions in the German press. Here is one of the latest of the
deeply-moving expressions on the aftermath of the
The Jewish sense of history will in all proba-
bility add a religious holiday, Yom Hashoa, to the
Jewish calendar to commemorate resistance in
the Warsaw Ghetto.
The German churches have nothing compar-
able, nothing to .commemorate the 50 million or so
dead in the Second World War, for which the Axis
powers were to blame.
Researchers are engaged in a quest for causes
and consequences, for guilt and responsibility,
both in Germany in neighboring countries that
turned a deaf ear to refugees in need of help and
almost looked on idly as mass murder took its
The Jewish community's resistance to the rise
of the Nazis was a failure. It was bound to be a
failure because the community was too small in
Germany and too dependent on its own resources
to be able to influence a mass movement and revo-
lutionary propaganda techniques.
The Jews failed in their bid to convince their
neighbors of the threat to the survival of Germany
and of their own community they felt the Nazis
Political parties, the churches and organized
groups failed to heed their arguments.
Both the strategy and tactics of this defense
were unrealistic and ineffective. They sought to
cure symptoms and were unable to cure the dis-
ease even though they had recognized it for what
it was.
The foundations on which the emancipation
of the Jews had been based in Germany and
elsewhere in Europe were shaken by National
Socialism, the Third Reich and the Holocaust.
Emancipation of the Jews had been accom-
plished and Jews had become part of the modern
world, but at a price that now was seen as having;
been too high.
European states had proved incapable of in-
volving pluralistic societies in terms of religion,
race and culture and of drafting constitutions
embodying any such ideal.
This forced the Jewish community to limit its
view of itself almost exclusively to religious tradi-
tion and to attach greater importance to integra-
tion and all forms of assimilation than to group
identity and the all-Jewish reality of welfare and
The post-war situation of the Jewish commu-
nity required progress toward a second emanci- _
pation, that of equal rights for minority groups
(and not just the Jews).
It calls for progress toward a society that
takes both parts of the U.S. motto, e pluribus unum,
seriously and embodies them in political and so-
cial institutions.
Dr. Herbert Strauss, who made the above statement is
now a professor of modern history at City College, New
York. He is a survivor from Nazism whose father, an indus-
trialist who was incarcerated by the Nazis, was a victim of
the Nazi terror in Treblinka.
Dr. Strauss' story is deeply moving, from the Jewish
point of view as well as the German. His father was an
Orthodox Jew, his mother a Catholic.
Dr. Strauss changed the word "killed': on his father's
tombstone to "murdered."
The eminent survivor wore the Yellow Badge with
pride. He was trained for the rabbinate by Dr. Leo Baeck
and his thesis was "What Does It Mean to Live as a Jew."
After a 35-year professorship at City College, he was
recently named head of the Anti-Semitism Research Cen-
ter at Technical University in Berlin.
The story of his hiding from the Nazis, his escape to
Switzerland, his subsequent studies, the score of essays he
authored on the Jewish experiences, are related in a
lengthy article in The German Die Zeit and appears in an
English translation in the German Tribune published in
There is special significance to this story in an impor-
tant essay by Dr. Strauss which appeared Der
Tagesspiegel, Jan. 30, and appears in the English transla-
tion in the German Tribune, preceding the biographical
data, under the title "Hitler and the Holocaust — an Histo-
rian's View."
It is this essay that assumes great significance because

By Philip

The Anti-Semitic Virus Defined in the Recollections
of an Eminent Survivor From Nazism ... Jessie Sampter
Recalled as Inspirer of Zionists . . . Koestler's Reply

of its interpretative character on the question of anti-
A summation of prejudices as they affect Jews is espe-
cially impressive in the view of this eminent survivor from
the terror that produced the Holocaust. Dr. Strauss pro-
vides this factual analysis of the spread of anti-Semitism:
Source material in nearly all countries shows
that anti-Semitic attitudes and ideas were inher-
ited even in the United States and Great Britain,
but particularly strongly in Eastern Europe.
But it was mainly in Germany that they took
root in the media and in orgzniations, in political
parties and social superciliousness.
In France the defeat of the anti-Dreyfusards
sealed the fate of the anti-Semitic-alliance until
the establishment of the Vichy_ government.
In Britain and the United States liberal tradi-
tions of civic rights set bounds to the conse-
quences of racial creeds, at least in the mother
Equal rights for blacks in the United States,
where they make up about 10 percent of the popu-
lation, has enjoyed priority for decades.
In Germany, by way of a special development,
racial ideology gained support whenever society
was unable to cope with its crises and overt or
covert stereotypes could be mobilized to salve the
actual or expected anxiety of social groups of the
Stereotyped prejudice gained momentum
from observations that were sweeping generali-
zations yet were full of suggestive power.
In Imperial Germany there was a lack of
forces strong enough to counteract the trend.
Social groups who retained power by artifi-
cial means joined forces in anti-Semitism with
others who were affected by industrialization or
by social upsets, offering them hatred instead of
comprehensive reforms.
Anti-Semitism became symptomatic of a nos-
talgic failure to come to terms with the modern
The constellation in the final years of the
Weimar Republic corresponded in direct con-
tinuity and political structure to this model.
Those who resent the echoes of Nazism, as they are
often heard in Detroit and in Skokie and elsewhere, where
the Nazi footsteps become visible, will undoubtedly ask for
firmer assertions. Yet the historian must play his role, the
analyst who strives for good will and an end to hatreds must
keep preaching.
Perhaps this is the way to the better life for which the
honorable in mankind strive. The lessons are apparent.

For-the Levin Name:
Another Notable Encomium

Democrat, a young man from the Levin family which bef-
riended him during his lifetime, should be cited as "the
Hebrew Hart" is an achievement to be proud of. Marking a
continuity in libertarian devotions, in the comfort given to
the cause of Israel redeemed and protected, is an occurrence
in political experience meriting fullest appreciation.

Unforgettable Jessie Sampter

Jessie Sampter left an indelible legacy in Zionist his-
tory, and it is well that she is remembered on the 100th
anniversary of her birth.
The informative essay in this issue by David Geffen
lends credibility to an impassioned soul who sang of the
glories of her people and the aspirations for redemption.
There is much more to be added as a tribute to her
The Geffen essay speaks of the influence upon her of
Henrietta Szold, Mordecai Kaplan, Judah L. Magnes and
others in their ranks of scholarship and leadership. It may
be said -- and this is the judgment of one who knew her —
that Jessie Sampter was their inspirer'.
She was noted for many qualities and personal devo-
tions. She was a vegetarian and she created and devoted
her worldly possessions to the vegetarian section for the
elderly at the Kibutz Givat Brenner in Israel.
It was her inspiration for the youth for which her
memory remains a blessing in Jewish history.

Enigma of Arthur Koestler:
Most Distinguished and Most
Controversial, Rooted in Idealism

It may be questioned, yet it must be said that the late
Arthur Koestler,was rooted in idealism. He was controver-
sial, and perhaps diluted by inconsistencies. He was never-
theless creative and challenging.
He commenced as a Zionist, and he proved his loyalties
to his ideals by laboring in kibutzim in Israel in the 1920s.
His negations some years later were unhappy results of a
troubled soul who was greatly affected by another defec-
tion: his withdrawal from Communism after having made
it a cause celebre.
Those who had read and watched the stage play based
on "Darkness at Noon" can understand the brilliance of a
mind that went into great depth over an issue which first
inspired and then drove him into a position of dominating
Why this should also have affected his Zionism was
always cause for deep regret. He was the personal secretary
of Vladimir Jabotinsky and as such was expected to be a
leader in vigilance for Zionism. It was in those years of the
early Revisionist activities that he was also associated with
Menahem Begin. While he left the Zionist cause, he never-
theless remained a strong supporter of the justice of the
Jewish ideal of redemption and the Jewish right to state-
It is no wonder that he should have had an important
role in the Spanish War of Liberation, that he should have
been a Franco prisoner as well as a prisoner of the Nazis.
Not to be forgotten is the activism with which he con-
ducted the campaign against capital punishment in
England and succeeded in it.
His "Thirteenth Tribe" and contentions about the
Khazars as the progenitors of Eastern European Jewry
were viewed as foolishness. Perhaps it was one of his major
With his many errors, he was the acknowledged liter-
ary genius. Such creative writers remain unforgettable.

Leaders show 'Recklessness'
in Response to Holocaust



Politics has a strange tinge. It is bathed more in suspi-
cion than in glory. When a politician acquires all-
embracing respect, it is an attainment that reaches out
above the limitations of party lines.
Saul Levin would have been proud of the roles of his
sons Sander and Carl. That both should be in the U.S.
Congress, the elder in the House of Representatives, the
younger in the U.S. Senate, is cause for great satisfaction
for Mother Bess, as much as it would have thrilled their late
father who himself built a career marked by many notable
Now Senator Carl enjoys recognition widely- accorded
him in the non-Jewish as well as the Jewish circles. In the
former he has just been accorded an enviable compliment.
His opponents have just labeled him "The Hebrew Hart."
Philip Hart would have considered himself highly
honored thus to be associated with a Jewish successor in the
highest American legislative body. He was among Israel's
leading defenders in the U.S. Senate and was considered
one of America's most distinguished liberals. On the home
ground, he was the chairman of the Michigan Chapter of
the American Christian Palestine Committee and among
the leading Christian Zionists in this state. That a fellow



A Seven Arts Feature

There is something reck-
less and irresponsible about
the way the agonizing issue
of the Nazi Holocaust and
the response of world lead-
ers, including Jewish lead-
ers, is being treated in the
mass media.
Recently, PBS stations,
presented "Who Shall Live
and Who Shall Die," a
documentary that managed
to distort the central issues
of moral responsibility for
saving Jewish lives under
the Nazis. And for weeks, a
controversy has swirled in
the press around a report
prepared by a researcher for
the American Jewish
Commission on the
Holocaust, headed by the

distinguished Justice Ar-
thur Goldberg.
Both the TV.program and
the report suggest that
American Jewish leaders
knew almost everything the
Nazis' final solution was in-
flicting on European Jews,
and did practically nothing
to try to save them. If true,
that is a most devastating
charge. But such an indict-
ment should be made only
after the most rigorous re-
search is carried out by a
painstaking examination of
the actual records of Jewish
leaders and organizations.
But we know for a fact
that neither the TV pro-
ducer nor the researcher
of the commission report
did their homework.
Scholars have questioned
the reports reliability.

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