Holo­caust sur­vivors mark Hanukkah across globe

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS -

BER­LIN (JTA) – In a ball­room dec­o­rated with a gi­ant Hanukkah meno­rah made of golden bal­loons, some 400 Holo­caust sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies gath­ered for the sec­ond an­nual “Holo­caust Sur­vivors’ Night.”

This sec­ond an­nual event, spon­sored by the Con­fer­ence on Jewish Ma­te­rial Claims Against Ger­many, was both fes­tive and somber. Speak­ers re­peated con­cerns about re­cent polls show­ing that knowl­edge about the Holo­caust is wan­ing.

“We mustn’t for­get to tell about what hap­pened,” Ro­man Haller, di­rec­tor of the Claims Con­fer­ence Suc­ces­sor Or­ga­ni­za­tion in Ger­many, said in re­marks to the gath­er­ing, which was held at Ber­lin’s Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in for­mer West Ber­lin. “But we are not just vic­tims,” he em­pha­sized. Haller was born in 1944 while his par­ents were in hid­ing in Ukraine.

The Claims Con­fer­ence also hosted gath­er­ings in Jerusalem, Moscow and the New York metro area on the third night of Hanukkah. The or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mates that some 400,000 sur­vivors are liv­ing through­out the world to­day – in­clud­ing those who fled to the east of the for­mer Soviet Union.

In Ber­lin, speak­ers in­cluded Rüdi­ger Mahlo, Claims Con­fer­ence rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Ger­many; Ber­lin Jewish com­mu­nity pres­i­dent Gideon Joffe; Ger­man Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Rolf Bösinger; Par­lia­men­tary State Sec­re­tary of the For­eign Min­istry Michelle Mün­te­fer­ing; and Char­lotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish com­mu­nity of Mu­nich and Up­per Bavaria, who sur­vived the Holo­caust in hid­ing in Bavaria.

Sit­ting at long ta­bles dec­o­rated with bal­loons, par­tic­i­pants helped them­selves to a meal of rice pi­laf with chicken and beef, and beet salad, wash­ing it down with Manis­che­witz wine. At least one par­tic­i­pant brought his own vodka in a hip flask. Rus­sian could be hear every­where.

Light­ing one of the Hanukkah can­dles to­gether with Ber­lin com­mu­nity Rabbi Jonah Siev­ers was As­sia Gor­ban, 85, who was born in Mogilev-Podol­sky and es­caped with her mother from a con­cen­tra­tion camp in Ukraine. They were lib­er­ated by the Red Army in March 1944.

In 1992 she moved from Moscow to Ber­lin. To­day, she is a great-grand­mother, and “filled with joy to see the Hanukkah meno­rahs” all over her adopted city.

Since the Claims Con­fer­ence ini­ti­ated ne­go­ti­a­tions in 1952, Ger­many has paid more than $80 bil­lion in in­dem­ni­fi­ca­tion to in­di­vid­u­als for suf­fer­ing and losses re­sult­ing from the Nazi per­se­cu­tion.

Next year, the or­ga­ni­za­tion will dis­trib­ute some $350 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion to more than 60,000 sur­vivors in 83 coun­tries, plus $550 mil­lion in grants to more than 200 so­cial ser­vice agen­cies that help the aged.


A CAN­DLE-LIGHT­ING cer­e­mony is held on the third night of Hanukkah by the Jewish com­mu­nity of Ber­lin.

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