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July 31, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-31

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

I PURELY COMMENTARY

Preserving Our Treasures, Thanks To Expert Archivists

can find facts available to them in the
AJHS assembled data.
Major interest attaches to a more
emphasized current interest in the
AJHS. Its headquarters assumes
significance as an exhibit center of
Jewish history. The collection of
valuables on display there and
available for further study mark a new
achievement in archival perpetuation of
historic manuscripts and records.
This expandedd achievement is ac-
credited to AJHS librarian Nathan M.
Kaganoff.

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

Formation of Jewish historical
societies, on local and statewide bases,
have assumed national importance.
Detroit's active historical society has
earned statewide acclaim. The atten-
tion given to the assembling of records
tracing Jewish pioneering in Michigan
has already gained mounting support.
These aims and activities are matched
in scores of American communities and
the result is an assurance that our
historical data, including manuscripts,
photographs and valuable letters, will
be preserved.
The inspiration comes from
numerous sources. A primary en-
couragement came from the many years
of gathering valuable material by the
American Jewish Archives. The genius
of its executive guide, the revered
historian Jacob R. Marcus, continues
with the country's blessings for an
uninterrupted, widely admired service.
The American Jewish Historical Socie-
ty more than supplements the Archives.
It gives strength to a major purpose. A
new achievement by it, the assembling
of valuables that lend themselves to ex-
hibits on a national scale, create an in-
terest that may bring the historical
preservation process into untold Jewish
homes via their localized historical
societies.
Special interest is created in the an-
nouncement by Morris Soble, president
of the American Jewish Historical
Society (AJHS), that plans are commen-
cing for the observance in 1992 of its
100th anniversary. While the event will
still be five years in the making, the ad-
vance interest gains significance in So-

Nathan Kaganoff

ble's indication that it will mark also
the 500th anniversary of Columbus'
discovery of the New World and the
100th birthday of Ellis Island.
Justified pride is expressed in the
growth of the AJHS since its founding
in the anlyses of its current status by
Bernard Wax, director of the AJHS. It
has not only developed into an archival
gatherer of facts but as a functioning
research center aiding students of
Jewish history.
Wax calls attention in his current
report to the functions of the AJHS, in
its research library and archives located
on the campus of Brandeis University
in Waltham, Mass. It adheres to its
dedication since 1892 to the "collection,
preservation and dissemination of infor-
mation on the history of Jews on the

Bernard Wax

American continent." Therefore the im-
portance of the facts that the collected
treasures contain more than six million
manuscripts, 250 paintings and ar-
tifacts, 500 American Yiddish films and
theater posters and a number of
restored American Yiddish films ad-
ministered by the National Center for
Jewish Films.

That explains the recognition of the
roads leading to the AJHS quarters by
students of history, researchers, authors
as well as students working on their
doctoral theses. It is as a research
center with an availability of data that
the society continues to retain its value
to Jewry and to American scholarship.
There are increasing genealogical in-
terests. Those searching for family roots

Dr. Kaganoff reports that in the
past 13 months 879 readers utilized the
library. There wre 1,054 visitors view-
ing the facilities. There were 34 groups
participating in special programs ad-
dressed by staff members on subjects in
Jewish history. Inquiries by 1,436 sear-
chers for historical data were provided
with the searched-for facts. Dr.
Kaganoff thereupon called attention to
the nationwide interest in the society
and its library resulting in the presen-
tation to it of material of great
historical merit that is now preserved
by the AJHS. The possession of such
material and its availability to students
and viewers turns the library into an
exhibit hall.
Dr. Kaganoff, announcing the
numerous valuables, mentions among
them the following with his personal
annotations:

We were presented with a
large group of photographs of
Mary Antin, the prominent
author, covering various periods
of her life, by her niece, Esther
Antin Vogel.
We were given a photograph

Continued on Page 36

A Tragic Example Of Kapo Involvement

A federel court in Brooklyn is con-
fronted with the abhorrent case of a Jew
accused of having been a kapo, a Jewish
policeman in the Nazi military. He is
accused of having abused and tortured
fellow-Jews. Previously, Nazis had been
tried on charges of having lied about
their past when entering the United
States. Several were deported to be tried
in their former homelands. Now, for the
first time, a kapo is on trial.
The case of 75-year-old Jacob Tan-
nenbaum, a revered member of a
Brooklyn congregation whose piety has
been a source of honor for him for the
four decades of his attained American
citizenship, is related in an interesting
column by Rabbi Marc Liebhaber in the
American Jewish World of Minneapolis.
The kapo angle in the Holocaust
tragedy is filled with horrors. Introduc-
ing the Tannenbaum case, Rabbi
Liebhaber recalled a personal ex-
perience involving a very famous name
in Jewish history of the current century
of many agonies in Jewish experience,
that of itzhak Gruenbaum. The latter's
son was a kapo. The Liebhaber recollec-
tion introduces this story of a horrify-
ing involvement in a youth's coopera-
tion with the Nazis:

2

FRIDAY, JULY 31, 1987

In 1947, Itzhak Gruenbaum,
who later became the first
minister of the interior in the
Israeli government, came to
Munich, Germany and asked
Henia and myself to be so kind
and arrange a get-together with
some survivors of ghettos and
camps. In 1947 we were all sur-
vivors. He expressed a wish to
meet with the intellectuals in the
Munich Jewish community .. .
In our small, two-room,
rented apartment, we gathered
to welcome the leader of our
past. A broken, sad, weeping
Gruenbaum came to hear a
good word about his only son.
When the Hitler hordes march-
ed into Poland, Gruenbaum was
in Israel. His only son remained
in Poland, where he became a
kapo during the Nazi rule. Sur-
vivors of the camps told stories
of cruelty, inhumane treatment
of his fellow prisoners — the
young Gruenbaum was worse
than the Nazis.
Survivors pledged not to rest
until the young Gruenbaum
would be brought to justice

before the court of the Jewish
people.
Itzhak Gruenbaum came to
Germany to hear from someone
a word that would soothe his
pain and anguish. I do not
remember if his wish was fulfill-
ed. The wounds of the survivors
were fresh, blood was still boil-
ing. "Kapos had no right to live
in our midst. They have to be
tried, no matter who their
parents were" was the mood in
the D.P. camps.
Forty years passed since
that memorable visit in our
home of a great father whose
son betrayed his people.
Itzhak Gruenbaum received
a promise not to hunt his son if
the son would leave Paris where
he was hiding, and go to Israel.
The young Gruenbaum left
for Israel, joined the Israel
Defense Forces and died in the
War of Independence.
After relating this unforgettable
story, Rabbi Liebhaber proceeded
to outline the bitterness involved in
the approaching trial of Jacob Tan-

nenbaum on the charge of having
brutalized Jews in his role as a kapo.
The Liebhaber column contained
the following facts and the author's
viewpoint on the case:
Jacob Tannenbaum, unlike
Gruenbaum's son, did not go to
Israel. He is now indicted to
stand trial in a federal court. He
is accused of lying to the im-
migration authorities about his
past when he entered the United
States and when he later
became a citizen. The date for
the trial is not set.
When Jacob Tannenbaum
will take his stand before a U.S.
court, the history of Jewish
kapos, the Yudenrat, Jewish
policemen in the ghettos will un-
fold in all its abhorrence. These
people were victims and vic-
timizers, selected to be
murdered. They were given a
reprieve from death for
cooperating with the Nazis in
the running of the camps,
brutalizing fellow prisoners,
betraying their people.

Continued on Page 36

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