2 Friday, December 2, 1983
THE DETROIT JEWISH` NEWS
Eschatology to the Rescue:
How 'The Day After' Could
Be Theologically Delineated
Producers of the would-be terrifying The Day After"
overlooked a basic factor in facing up to the Final Judg-
ment. The eschatological visions predated the televised
adherence to the realities of nuclear threats.
There is the religious factor, the belief in the end of all
things — how else can there be Resurrection? -
The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia was blessed to
have as one of its editors a Reform Jewish cleric who went
deeply into the subject. Dr. Simon Cohen thus defined Es-
Eschatology as a Lesson Judging 'The Day After'
. U.S. Department of Justice Doesn't Play Games
and Martyrdom for Trifa Is a Poor Falsification
that is more vital in search for continuity, much more than
an end to the matter that affects the human.
Therefore, perhaps the children who were advised not
to watch "The Day After" have an answer to the warnings
as televised. Those who did included many who judged it as
another television horror play. Perhaps there are too many
of them already.
Demjanjuk and Trifa:
U.S. Justice Unabated
for Accused Nazi Villains
John Demjanjuk has provided his $60,000 home in
Cleveland as bail pending his appeal from a U.S. Justice
Department order before he is sent to stand trial in Israel as
a participant in the mass murder of Jews as a Nazi col-
laborator. It is evident that the Justice Department is not
playing games with Nazi criminals who lied in their appli-
cations for U.S. citizenship.
Such also was the order for the deportation of the
Michigan-oriented anti-Semite Valerian Trifa who under-
standably finds it difficult to find a haven of refuge and
There is evidence of thorough coverage and responsible
therefore still eludes deportation orders. The latest reports
research in the Simon Cohen essay in which the scholarly
are that time is running out for him and that he either must
find "a host" or be deported to Romania where he commit-
The eschatological viewpoint appears in cer-
ted the crimes he is charged with.
tain parts of the Bible (Isaiah 24-27; Daniel 12;
Assuring justice in a U.S. decision, by court action, is
Zechariah 4; Joel 3 and 4), in apocalyptic litera-
one thing; glorifying him and thereby falsifying records is
ture, and in numerous allusions in the talmudic
another. The decision for his deportation, agreed to in Fed-
literature. It varies as to detail, according to the
eral Court in Detroit, was a result of proof of his criminality
nature of the individual writer.
provided in the 30-year-old pursuit of justice by Dr. Charles
Thus sometimes it is Israel alone, sometimes
Kremer and many who associated with him in gathering
the righteous of all nations who are eventually
the evidence against Trifa.
triumphant; the nature of the Messiah is variously
Nevertheless, Detroit's afternoon newspaper found it
described; and the state of the souls after death
necessary to portray a saint in an article prominently fea-
prior to the final resurrection and judgment is
tured in the Sunday magazine section under the title "The
Man Without a Country." Just as Trifa's church was misled
The general ideas of the future hope, how-
into granting him sainthood, so also a responsible news-
ever, are fairly uniform, as follows: The state of
paper found it necessary to display Trifa as a martyr. Ac-
the world will become progressively worse as
cording to that article, one would judge that the comforting
time goes on, culminating in great wars, of which
of Nazism and Hitler-formed criminality was not by one
the most striking will be that of Gog and Magog,
Valerian Trifa who also already stands condemned by his
and in pestilence, famine and earthquakes. Then
native country, Romania.
God will intervene, either in person, or through
The shock created by an article martyrizing an admit-
the Messiah (sometimes there are two Messiahs,
ted associate of one of the vilest groups whose members
the first of whom will die), and there will be a great
were responsible for wholesale massacres of Romanian
battle in which the wicked nations will be de-
Jews elicited outrage and protests. In the Nov. 27 Detroit
News Michigan weekly magazine section, a month after
All mankind will perish; but then will come
the appearance of the misleading original glorifying Trifa,
the resurrection of the dead, and all will be sum-
appeared factual presentations, with resentment for the
moned before the throne of God for judgment. The
wicked will be annihilated; the righteous will live
The responses were written by Peter Alter, president,
in the new Jerusalem, and enjoy the bliss of the
Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith for Michitaii; David
world to come." Such, in main outline, is the
ebenbom, president, Jewish Community Council of Met-
teaching of eschatology as expressed in the
opolitan Detroit; Steven Weiss of Southfield; and Brian
Judaism of the post-exilic and talmudic period.
chill of Detroit.
Because Eschatology is an augury of the End of Days,
If ever anger was justified, it was in Weiss' letter. If
of the erasing of mankind and the anticipation of Resurrec-
e ver facts spoke bluntly and inhumanity was excoriated,
tion, there is almost like an invitation to it in the ABC
w hile a newspaper's blunder was exposed, it was in the
horror drama "The Day After." It need not, theocratically, A lter-Lebenbom condemnations of a piece that could even
be ascribed only to the ultra-Orthodox and the Fundamen- b e branded anti-American as well as inhuman.
talists. The author of the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
essay dealt with his definition in the role of a Reform rabbi. re There must have been many more messages, also with
sentment of the manner in which the man who primarily
Yet, even as a Reform adherent, he appended to his defini- co nducted the campaign to expose Trifa, Dr. Charles Kre-
Lion a Reform prayer which could be utilized eschatologi-
m er, was treated in an article falsifying the Trifa record. Of
tally. Rabbi Simon Cohen states as he concludes his essay:
sp ecial interest is a descriptive letter by Mrs. Myron (Ida)
Throughout the Middle Ages these teachings
oyrich, whose letter was among those ignored. Mrs.
were a part of the fundamental creed of Judaism.
oyrich, herself a survivor of the Nazi terror, wrote a com-
Thus the 11th article of the creed of Maimonides
endable essay stating the facts in a vital cast. Here is the
expresses the belief in reward and punishment in
co mplete text of her ignored letter:
ESCHATOLOGY, the doctrine of last things;
in particular, teachings about the end of the world
and of the state of the soul after death. It is com-
posed of doctrines about such subjects as the
coming of the Messiah, the tribulations that will
befall humanity as the result of wickedness, the
final redemption, the last judgment, immorality,
resurrection, heaven and hell.
the world to come, the 12th the hope for the com-
ing of the Messiah, and the 13th the expectation of
the resurrection of the dead. This is still the view
of the future held by Orthodox Jews.
Liberal Jews have stripped the doctrine of
eschatology of its supernatural elements, but still
retain the hope that a future golden age will cor-
rect the imperfections of present life. The "Union
Prayer Book," in a recasting of a prayer first ut-
tered by Abba Aricha (Rab) in the Third Century
CE, expresses this hope at every single service:
"We fervently pray that the day may come
when all men shall invoke Thy name, when cor-
ruption and evil shall give way to purity and
goodness, when superstition shall no longer en-
slave the mind ; nor idolatry blind the eye, when
all inhabitants of the earth shall know that to
Thee alone every knee must bend and every ton-
gue give homage.
"0 may all, created in Thine image, recognize
that they are brethren, so that, one in spirit and
one in fellowship, they may be forever united be-
fore Thee. Then shall Thy kingdom be established
on earth and the word of Thine ancient seer be
fulfilled. The Lord will reign forever and ever. On
that day the Lord shall be One and His name shall
Therefore, it is still the week and the month before
Justice demands a reply to the analysis in
your magazine of Bishop Trifa with its references
to his "soft blue eyes" and "soft hands," and the
concluSion that he is a "victim of history."
I sat every day in the first row of the cour-
troom in Detroit, as the government began pre-
senting its case, and I too was overwhelmed by
those eyes — but to me they glistened of steel and
hatred, particularly as they stared at what had
become "the Jewish side" of the courtroom. Un-
fortunately, this side was also filled with ghosts,
ghosts who still haunt me and others like me each
night — the victims who are still asking for justice.
It is in their name that I feel compelled to bring the
following to the attention of your readers.
First, lets look at the background of this man,
so piously, described by your correspondent.
Viorel Trifa was a theological student, who by
1936 became a full time legionnaire. He was presi-
dent of the National Union of Christian Romanian
Students and leader of the Iron Guard Student
movement, the combat arm of the Legion of Ar-
changel Michael, a mystical fascist movement.
The Iron Guard legionnaires were the Romanian
equivalent of Hitler's "brownshirts" and so rec-
ognized by the U.S. government.
Howard Blum, former N.Y. Times correspon-
dent, writes in his book "Wanted!" that as early as
1936 at a legion congress in Targu-Mures, Trifa
spoke in support of a Guardist "death com-
mando" squad that would liquidate "Jews and
other enemies of the state."
Following the speech on Jan. 20, 1941 referred
to in your article, which initiated the pogrom, cor-
respondent Leigh White in a report datelined
Sofia, Jan. 29, 1941, gives an exact account of the
slaughter and lists the "general staff which or-
dered the massacre." The third name listed is that
of "Viorel Trifa, leader of the frenetic Greenshirt
Raul Hilberg, drawing on interviews with
eyewitnesses wrote in "The Destruction of the
European Jews": "Iron Guardists had stormed
into the Jewish quarter, burning down
synagogues, demolishing stores and devastating
private apartments . . . In the city itself, the Ger-
man military attache was busy collecting casualty
reports. 'In the Bucharest morgue' he wrote, 'one
can see hundreds of corpses, but they are mostly
Jews' . . . In the morgue, bodies were observed
hanging like carcasses of cattle. A witness saw a
girl of five hanging by her feet just like a calf, but
her entire body smeared with blood."
When the war
ended, Trifa por- -
frayed himself a vic-
tim of Nazi persecu-
tion and sought
asylum in Italy.
There, though still a
layman, he found a
position teaching his-
tory at a Catholic col-
lege. On July 19, 1950,
Trifa arrived in New
York. Blum recounts
Examiner Leo M. Ja-
remko asked, "Did
you ever make any
speeches or give any lectures that might be con-
strued as being anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic?"
Trifa replied, "No, I cannot say. I don't believe
so." The examiner then asked if Trifa had ever
been a member of the Iron Guard. "No," Trifa
Blum further describes the takeover of the
Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in Grass Lake,
Michigan as a military operation. First the phone
lines were cut, then a barrage of rocks and finally
the seizure of the Vatra. The Reverend Vasile
Pascau who had been at the Vatra during the
assault later wrote: "A group of Iron Guard hood-
lums ... invaded our property . . . beating an old
priest . . . creating terror . ." And so a layman,
Viorel Trifa, became BiShop Valerian Trifa.
Before World War II, Romania was the largest
Jewish community in Europe, numbering over
800,000 By the end of the war it was reduced to
300,000 survivors. There are few Romanian Jews,
if any who did not lose members of their im-
mediate families in the slaughter. Many are eye-
witnesses of Trifa's role.
I find it amusing to read in your paper Trifa's
attorney's statement that "the government's case
was much less than airtight." It was just before
the government was to produce its second witness
(she was already seated in the courtroom), a New
Jersey woman whose father was killed in the 1941
massacre that Trifa proposed his "deal" to the
government. In a press conference held in De-
troit's Federal Building immediately after, Allan
A. Ryan, Jr. the director of the government's Of-
fice of Special Investigations, outlined the depth
of the government's case, in which he was pre-
pared with eye-witnesses, taped depositions,
hand-writing experts, Romanian newspapers of
the time and cartoons full of documents. "It was
the immensity of our evidence that precipitated
this conclusion," said Ryan as he recounted being
approached by Trifa's lawyers.
In his final paragraphs, your reporter says
". . . it all comes down to the bishop and the dentist
. . ." With all respect to Dr. Kramer, who has given
half of his life to this cause, that is not so — it all
comes down to the bishop and justice.
It is unfortunate that the truth must be sought in this
fashion, by its publication in these columns. But facts are
facts and will not be hidden into a Nazi-protected closet.
Truth is truth and just as the U.S. Department of Justice is
not planning games in such cases the evidence must be
proclaimed. That's the purpose of this unusual resort of
presenting facts which a journalistic confrere has ignored.