Let’s start with “Desperate Hours”. A movie filmed in 2001 by Victoria Barrett tells a fascinating story. It is about Turkey and the Jews during World War II and, as Barrett says, the reaction is always something like “I didn’t know that”. There are several points made: First, that in 1935, Turkey invited a number of German (largely Jewish) professors to staff its universities. This gave a number of Jewish academics, and their families, a chance to escape Germany, continue their professions, and protect their families. Then, there were Turkish Jews living in a number of places throughout Europe. Turkey gave them protection of Turkish citizens (Turkey was neutral in the war) and the Nazis acceded. Thirdly, there were negotiations to save a large number of Jews, by trading them for 10,000 trucks, which were not successful. But they show a country willing to treat all people equally, and willing to stand up to Germany. A fascinating, and little known story.
And, some very positive things about the future Pope Paul 23, who lived in Turkey for a decade.
Barret was quite lucky, because she got to interview three of the Turkish diplomats involved in saving Jewish lives, including one who actually boarded an Auschwitz train to pull off Jewish Turks, and refused to get off. They have since died.
Three cheers for Turkey. And why don’t we all know this story? (If you get a chance to see the film, see it.”
Now let’s go to The Deafening Silence. Written by journalist Rafael Medoff, and similar to David Wyman’s “Abandonment of the Jews”, it tells the story of the failure of the American Jewish leadership (American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Community, etc.) to protest against the Holocaust, even after the worst was known. The main problem seemed to be that there was a fear that strong protest would likely bring about American anti-Semitism. The cowardice of the Jewish organizations was, in retrospect, unbelievable.
But what can you do, other than make noise? Could anyone stop the massacre in Rwanda, or the ethnic cleansing throughout the former Yugoslavia, or the raiding and starvation in Darfur? Would organized protests have made a difference? Would it have encouraged bombing of the Auschwitz rail lines? Or negotiations to open up borders to permit Jewish refugees to have a destination?
OK, Ilona thinks I am negative. After reading this book, I confess.
But the Caps are something different. Six in a row. Ten out of eleven. Maybe even the playoffs. Going to the game tomorrow night. Final one of the regular season. If we win, we are in.