World 'We will fight for our Germany,' Holocaust survivor to far right
Israel foundation connects to isolated Holocaust survivors
When the face of 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Naomie Lichthaus appeared on their screen, staff at the call centre of Israel's Yad Ezer La-Haver foundation were ready to respond. The foundation established by Shimon Shabag in the northern port city of Haifa in 2001 has been supporting survivors of the Nazis for two decades but its mission has expanded during the Covid-19 pandemic. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, 76 years since the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, Holocaust survivors find themselves vulnerable to a virus that preys on the elderly and has forced many into painful isolation.
Holocaust survivor Charlotte Knobloch on Wednesday called for a stronger defence of the country's "fragile" democracy and issued a searing rebuke to the far right: "We will fight for our Germany".
In an emotional speech to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Knobloch told the Bundestag lower house of parliament that extremists and conspiracy theorists had again taken aim at liberal European values.
"We must not forget for a single day how fragile the precious achievements of the last 76 years are" since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on January 27, 1945.
She Fled the Nazis and Was Raised By Wolves. It Was All a Lie.
It was on Holocaust Remembrance Day that Misha Defonseca chose to share her story of survival for the first time. Surrounded by friends and neighbors, she stood up at the Temple Beth Torah in Holliston, Mass., and told them—through tears—that after her Belgian parents were hauled off by the Nazis, she was placed in the care of a Catholic family who gave her a new name: Monique de Wael. Then, at the age of 7, she embarked on a trek from Belgium to Germany in search of her mother and father. Along her 1,900-mile journey, she witnessed pillaged villages and snuck in and out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
"Anti-Semitic thought and words draw votes again, are socially acceptable again -- from schools to corona protests and of course the internet, that catalyst for hatred and incitement of all kinds."
Knobloch, a former leader of Germany's 200,000-strong Jewish community who survived the Holocaust in hiding as a child in Bavaria, warned that the "enemies of democracy are stronger than many think".
"I call on you: take care of our country," she said, calling right-wing extremism "the greatest danger for all" in Germany.
Antony Blinken, courtly new top US diplomat, preaches humility and intervention
Unfailingly calm and courteous, America's new top diplomat Antony Blinken advocates a more humble approach to build alliances but, more than his boss, has advocated military power when human rights are in question. The 71th US secretary of state, who was easily confirmed by the Senate Tuesday, is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor and fluent French speaker who embodies diplomacy in both his image and ideals -- and also has a side passion playing rock guitar.
Addressing deputies of the hard-right Alternative for Germany, the largest opposition group in parliament with nearly 100 seats, Knobloch accused many of its followers of "picking up the tradition" of the Nazis.
"I tell you: you lost your fight 76 years ago," Knobloch said. "You will continue to fight for your Germany and we will keep fighting for our Germany."
Video: Some of The World's Most Powerful Women Share Their Personal Mottos (Time)
- 'A proud German' -
Knobloch fought back tears as she recounted the terror of the Nazis' rise and her grandmother, Albertine Neuland, sacrificing her life to save her own by taking her place on a deportation train to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Neuland was murdered there in 1944.
Presence of far-right Proud Boys symbol at Melbourne marches 'frightening for us all', Josh Frydenberg says
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he's concerned by the presence of the far-right Proud Boys symbol at marches in Melbourne, as the Government unveils plans for a new Holocaust museum in Canberra. A man dressed in a top emblazoned with 'Proud Boys' was briefly detained by police on Tuesday, after he clashed with those attending the Invasion Day march through Melbourne's CBD.Several other men wearing Proud Boys hats and shirts joined a separate march protesting the cancellation of the official Australia Day parade.The Proud Boys is a far-right, male-only extremist group that is active in the US.
"I stand before you as a proud German, against all odds and although much still makes it unlikely. Sadness, pain, desperation and loneliness accompany me," she said.
But she said Germany's enduring commitment to the culture of remembrance made her hopeful.
"I am proud of the young people in our country. They are free of guilt for the past but they assume responsibility for today and tomorrow: interested, passionate and courageous."
Germany has officially marked Holocaust Remembrance Day every January 27 since 1996 with a solemn ceremony at the Bundestag featuring a speech by a survivor and commemorations across the country.
Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, more than one million were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, most in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including homosexuals, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.
This year's anniversary is marked by growing concerns about extremist violence and incitement in Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken of her "shame" over rising anti-Semitism, as the Jewish community has warned that coronavirus conspiracy theories are being used to stir hatred.
Anti-Jewish crimes have risen steadily, with 2,032 offences recorded in 2019, up 13 percent on the previous year, according to the latest official figures.
Germany's far-right AfD braces for surveillance .
Germany's domestic security agency is on the verge of announcing whether the far-right AfD will be placed under surveillance for posing a threat to democracy, dealing a potential blow to the anti-immigration party in a key election year. After a two-year investigation and a report totalling over 1,000 pages, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) is to decide in the coming days if the Alternative for Germany (AfD) will be classed as a "suspected case" over its ties to right-wing extremism.The classification would allow intelligence agents to shadow the party, tap its communications and possibly use undercover informants.