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May 01, 1992 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-05-01

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

DETROIT I

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Red Cross Aids Survivors
In Search For Relatives

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AMY J. MEHLER

Staff Writer

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artin Water watch-
ed many a Yom
Hashoah (Day of
Remembrance) come and go
as he searched for his
brother, three sisters, four
nephews and niece ever
since he was liberated from
Auschwitz, Jan. 19, 1945.
Writing to government
agencies in Russia and
Poland led nowhere, he said.
So now, Mr. Water, 72, a
survivor of the Warsaw and
Lodz ghettos, is turning to
an unlikely source: the
International Red Cross.
The Southeastern Mich-
igan Chapter of the Ameri-
can Red Cross is now accep-
ting applications from Jew-
ish and non-Jewish families
inquiring about relatives
lost between 1933 and 1952.
The chapter office in
downtown Detroit mails
forms to inquiring families,
and sends the completed
forms to the Holocaust and
War Victims Tracing Center
in Baltimore, Md., estab-
lished in September 1990.
From there, inquiries are
sent to the International
Tracing Bureau in Arolson,
Germany.
"We know many Jewish
people have reservations
about the Red Cross, about
what the Red Cross didn't do
for Jewish civilians during
the war,” said Diane Paul,
director of the Baltimore
center. Mrs. Paul spoke
Monday to a group of 25
Holocaust survivors at the
Holocaust Memorial Center
in West Bloomfield.
"We're trying to get the
word out and let Jewish peo-
ple know that we're
available and that we can
help," she said. "The tracing
bureau in Germany has 46
million documents
designated for 14 million
people."
The International Red
Cross has a bloodied, tar-
nished image among many
Jews, especially Holocaust
survivors, according to
Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig,
director of the BlVIC. He said
it's because the Interna-
tional Red Cross failed to
report what was really going
on inside the concentration
camps.
"Delegations of Red Cross
officials visited There-
sienstadt and admitted that
they weren't fooled by the
show the Germans put on,"
he said, "Yet, they didn't

make their knowledge
public or inform the proper
authorities."
Rabbi Rosenzveig said
suspicions linger because of
the International Red Cross'
refusal to officially recognize
the Magen David Adorn, the
ambulance and blood service
of Israel.
"It's been a source of con-
cern for many years," the
rabbi said.
Mrs. Paul said the Red
Cross has described its
failure to react during the
Holocaust as "the greatest
defeat in our 125-year hu-
manitarian mission."
"Two books written about
the International Com-
mittee of the Red Cross con-
cluded that the Red Cross
could've done more during
the war," Mrs. Paul said.
"We want to accept and
understand the feelings of

The Red Cross
failure to inform the
world of the
Holocaust, and its
failure to recognize
Magen David
Adorn, leaves Jews
skeptical.

/

/

survivors, but it's sad that; \
many don't want to take ad-
vantage of what we can (
offer."
While Rabbi Rosenzveig
thinks the tracing service is c/
valuable, he also thinks it's
scope is too limited.
"It could be helpful to
many people," he said, "but (
there were too many Jews I
murdered without any
records."
Mrs. Paul said the tracing
center has received 8,000 in-'
quiries since it opened in
1990. Families may have to
wait up to a year-and-a-half
for an answer.
"But no matter what the
response is, a case worker ,
will inform the family mem- )
bers in person, face to face,"
she said.
Mr. Martin still isn't so
sure. He has heard it all (
before.
"I left the Warsaw Ghetto
in January 1940 to travel to I
Lodz to buy some food with <
the money my mother gave
me," Mr. Martin said. "Once <,
I got there, I couldn't go
back.
"I know my chances of fin-
ding something about them
are nil, but I couldn't live
with myself if I didn't
try."



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