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June 08, 2006 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-06-08

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Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us.


This Archive Pulsates

Dry Bones



here is no lack of formal
Holocaust commemora-
tions, from an annual
day of remembrance to the
March of the Living to Papal vis-
its to Auschwitz. But the world
still does not know the full
scope of what it is supposed to
be remembering, the complete
parameters of the horror the
Nazi regime inflicted.
That's why the archives
of the International Tracing
Service is a priceless research
tool for both historians and
families of victims. The ITS
files contain tens of millions of
documents with information
relating to an estimated 17.5
million people who suffered
under the Nazis.
Conditions for access to the
archive, located in Bad Arolsen,
Germany, are still to be deter-
mined and privacy rights are
a paramount concern. But it is
assumed that thousands of its
documents have never been
examined, both on individuals
who were transported to the

labor and death camps and
on the people who sent them
The ITS archive was begun
by the British Red Cross in 1943
and has been used primarily as
a means of determining com-
pensation for Holocaust victims.
But it has refused to open its
files, despite pleas to do so by
scholars and Jewish organiza-
Germany finally dropped its
objections to such a move in
April. It was the last nation on
the 11-member ITS board to
oppose opening the files when
it was assured that identi-
ties of former Nazis who were
never charged with war crimes
would be protected as would
those who were arrested and
murdered for reasons of sexual
It may seem surprising that
so much remains unknown
about the greatest disaster of
the 20th century. Hasn't enough
been documented and written
already? But it is not only the

Holocaust deniers, from sensa-
tion-seeking writers to thuggish
college professors to the presi-
dent of Iran, to whom these new
facts should be directed.
It is for those who have spent
a lifetime studying the Shoah
and still have blank spaces in
their research. It is for those
who have lived out their lives
under its shadow, without ever
really knowing what happened
to someone whose face was once
so dear.
It is for all of us who feel we
must add as much as we can
to our store of knowledge as a
further buttress against forget-
In order to remember, we
first must know. That is why the
opening of this archive, however
long delayed, should be hailed as
a triumph for free inquiry and
the human spirit.





Send letters of no more than 150

words to: lettersc thejewishnews.com .


Reality Check

Angst And The City


here are dozens of
reasons why so many
young people have
made the decision to leave this
area and move to Chicago or
New York or Los Angeles.
Many of them relate to an
expressed desire to live in a "real
city," a welcoming urban envi-
But that desire is shaped by a
factor that is seldom mentioned.
They have been taught by their
parents that Detroit is a place to
be feared, an option that is not to
be considered.
There are, in fact, a good
many things wrong with the city.
Most of them revolve around a
failure of political leadership.
Kwame Kilpatrick and the City
Council are not quite the A
Team. I doubt that they are even
the F Team.
Still, there is an undeniable

quickening in the city. Maybe it's
because I no longer get down-
town on a daily basis. But every
time I do, I come away impressed
— either at a new, inviting place
or a reinvigoration of an old
The city is incomparably bet-
ter than it was 20 years ago. The
Woodward Corridor between
the river and the New Center is
With the Tigers in a possible
pennant race for the first time
since the move to Comerica Park,
big crowds may be coming to the
downtown ballpark on a regular
basis all through the summer.
That's why baseball, more than
any other sport, is an economic
catalyst. It's a daily event.
On a recent Saturday visit to
Eastern Market, I was astonished
at the crowds thronging the nar-
row streets and the stalls and the

adjacent restaurants.
other reasons for
We went to another
this departure of a
old favorite restaurant,
Vince's, on Springwells,
But I like to
one Saturday night and
think that if I were
had a wait to get a table.
starting out again,
On the other hand,
I would seriously
we have friends who
consider a down-
would flat out refuse to
town loft.
Geor ge Cantor
go to the market or a
I still nurture
Col umnist
place like Vince's. Who
what I call my
would never have con-
Sunday morning
sidered sending their children
urban fantasy. Sleeping late,
to Wayne State or the College for
reading the papers over coffee
Creative Studies in Detroit's cul-
with my wife while a radio sta-
tural center. Who did not expose
tion plays jazz or the standards,
their children to the assets the
walking to a nearby restaurant
city has to offer — and then
for brunch, going to a movie.
evinced great disappointment
I never expected that fantasy
when their taillights disappeared would ever again be fulfilled in
on the road to Chicago.
Detroit in my lifetime. Not even
I don't want to overstate the
the radio station of my dreams
case. Detroit has a long, long way exists, except on satellite.
to go before it is anything close
But, as I say, there is a heart-
to Chicago; and there are several
beat once more.

The next step may be to
teach the current generation
that it is good to be cautious in
the city, to be wary. But not to
be afraid.
I sometimes dream of the
places my family used to live in
Detroit: an apartment on LaSalle,
a duplex on Curtis, a house on
Littlefield. Some are gone and
others have changed for the
But in my dreams they are
always as they were, renewed,
better. Those of us who watched
as the city of our childhood
disappeared can be forgiven
our doubts and trepidation. But
something is happening there
and I'm starting to think it's
something good.

George Cantor's e-mail address is


June 8 • 2006


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