THE DOUBLE-V ASPIRATIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO FOUGHT IN WWII

I am a Negro American

Out to defend my land

Army, Navy, Air Corps—I am there.

I take munitions through,

I fight—or stevedore, too.

I face death the same as you

do everywhere.

 

I’ve seen my buddy lying

Where he fell.

I’ve watched him dying

I promised him that I would try

To make our land a land

Where his son could be a man—

And there’d be no Jim Crow birds

Left in our sky.

 

So this is what I want to know:

When we see Victory’s glow,

Will you still let old Jim Crow

Hold me back?

When all those foreign folks who’ve waited—

Italians, Chinese, Danes—are liberated.

Will I still be ill-fated

Because I’m black?

 

Here in my own, my native land,

Will the Jim Crow laws still stand?

Will Dixie lynch me still

When I return?

Or will you comrades in arms

From the factories and the farms,

Have learned what this war

Was fought for us to learn?

Langston Hughes1

Throughout American history, African Americans have served in the U.S. military and defended the country that purchased them as slaves and, once freed, continued to deny them civil rights. The Buffalo Soldiers, a segregated unit, were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  They served in the Border War, Philippine-American War, Spanish-American War, and WWI. Despite their service, the military continued to disparage African Americans and treat them as inferior and incapable.

Efforts and a loose activism to gain employment freedom along with better wages and treatment began in the 1920s. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), founded in 1925 by A. Philip Randolph, lobbied with other activists for such provisions due to the systemic employment discrimination faced by African Americans across the U.S.  In 1935, the BSCP was legitimized when it gained full affiliation as a union with the American Federation of Labor (AFL).  With this affiliation, it became the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids.2

World War II was a turning point. In advance of U.S. entry into the war, Randolph contacted NAACP leader Walter White, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady. Together, they inspired President Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 8802 in June 1941.  The order outlawed discrimination in unions and in companies doing business with the government and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee to oversee compliance.  The order stated that “there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.”3

Before this order, minorities were restricted to the lowest paying jobs. The changes mandated by the order were not immediately accepted and implemented by industry across the U.S.  In particular, Southern states resisted.  Additionally, while the Executive Order focused on employment, it did not mention the military. There, segregation and discrimination continued.  Still, a million African Americans enlisted.

Double Victory became the battle cry, first, victory over fascism abroad and then, victory over racism at home — military desegregation, the abolition of the Poll Tax, integration of higher education and housing, and a right to medical care. African American soldiers returned home to the familiar Jim Crow status quo.  Their disappointment and unwillingness to remain second-class citizens energized the movement towards civil rights.

References:

1Excerpted from, https://www.poets.org, Langston Hughes poem Will V-Day Be Me-Day, Too? 1994

2RECORDS OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF SLEEPING CAR PORTERS, Series A, Holdings of the Chicago Historical Society and the Newberry Library, 1925–1969, Part 3: Records of the BSCP Relations with the Pullman Company, 1925–1968, Edited by William H. Harris A microfilm project of UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS OF AMERICA, An Imprint of CIS.

3 Fair Employment Practice Committee, Wikipedia

Notes: Executive Order 8802: Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry (1941), Our Documents, Executive Order 8802 dated June 25, 1941, General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives

YOM HASHOAH 2017 Commemorated on April 23, 2017 at Temple Emanu-El

The day of Holocaust remembrance was established in 1951 by the State of Israel to memorialize the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Shoah, a Hebrew word meaning The Destruction. The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance annually commemorates Yom Hashoah at a community-wide event as part of its mission to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference.

The day’s full name is Yom Hashoah VeHagevurah which translates to “day of the Catastrophe and Heroism.” The use of the longer name is especially appropriate at this year’s Yom Hashoah program which remembered those who perished and highlighted the testimonies of resistance of three Holocaust survivors: Mike Jacobs, read by his son Mark Jacobs; Les Mittelman, read by his daughter Julie Berman; and Leon Bakst, read by his daughter Marsha Gaswirth.

While you’ve missed the beautiful voices of the choir mingled with the singing of the Israeli Scouts and powerful words from Rabbi Stern, Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and Florence Shapiro, Chairman of the Board for the Dallas Holocaust Museum, here are synopses of the three testimonies.

Survivor and Partisan, Leon Bakst

In 1941 Germany invaded Evia, Poland where Leon Bakst lived with his family. The Nazis forced them to live in a ghetto. There the guards once ordered young men, including the Bakst brothers, to dig two massive trenches just outside the ghetto walls. Two days later the Nazis murdered over a thousand of their neighbors, and the trenches became mass graves.

Leon and his brother were eventually separated from their family and sent to a Nazi Labor Camp. They managed to escape and joined a group of Jewish partisans—the famed Bielski Brothers Partisans. Often aided by the Soviets, the partisans destroyed German communication lines, intercepted trains and protected hundreds of others who could not fight.

Survivor and Partisan, Mike Jacobs

Born to Moshe and Dora Jakubowicz in Konin, Poland, Mendel Jakubowicz was the youngest of six children. Shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Jakubowicz family was forced to relocate to the ghetto in Ostrowiec. There “Mike” joined the resistance movement, aiding in derailing trains as well as buying guns for the underground. Sent to Auschwitz, he continued his resistance fashioning guns and passing them to the Sonderkommando who used them in an uprising. Mike survived a death march and was ultimately liberated from Gusen II a subcamp of Mauthausen.

Survivor and Partisan, Les Mittelman

Les Mittelman was born in Debrecen, Hungary, the third of 4 children. When the war began he enlisted in the Hungarian army as required of all Jewish men over 18. Jewish enlistees were sent to Hungarian forced labor battalions and severely mistreated. Les was forced to place land mines and undertake other dangerous tasks. Eventually, he escaped and joined partisans attached to the Polish Home Army. He blew up tunnels, train tracks and bridges to sabotage the Nazis, all while hiding his Jewish identity as he would have been killed by his fellow partisans. After the war, Les, with his wife Magda, also a survivor, made their way to Israel. There he again picked up arms to fight—this time for the Haganah—what became, in 1949, the army of the new state of Israel.

A full-house attended the April 23rd at Temple Emanu-El, Stern Chapel. If you were not present watch the website, DallasHolocaustMuseum.org for next year’s commemoration.

Nuremberg: The Trial of Firsts

The Nuremberg Trials were the first of their kind. They started on November 20, 1945, with more than 20 indicted Nazi leaders in the dock accused of the most horrendous war crimes.  Their trial lasted ten months.

To put this historical context: the Nazi Party held a massive rally in the city of Nuremberg in 1933 shortly after Hitler became Chancellor. Such events were not unusual; the Nazi party staged annual Nuremberg rallies in the 20s and 30s. Hundreds of thousands of the parties’ faithful attended the extravaganzas of music, parades, rousing speeches cloaked in pomp and circumstance, and propaganda.

William L. Shirer, a correspondent for the Columbian Broadcasting Service in Berlin and author of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, described in his diary what he saw at the Nuremberg Rally at on September 7, 1935.

“Another great pageant tonight. Two hundred thousand party officials packed in the

Zeppelin Wiese…, ‘We are strong and will get stronger,’ Hitler shouted at them. And

there in the flood-lit night, jammed together like sardines, in one mass formation,

the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state

of being the Germanic man knows the shedding of their individual souls and minds…

they were merged completely in the Germanic herd.”

Berlin Diary: the Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 by William L. Shirer (1941).

The Bavarian city of Nuremberg was devastated by Allied bombing during the war. However, partly because Nuremberg had been the site of Nazi triumph and power highlighted by the notorious rallies held there, it was the location of choice for the trials of Nazi leaders indicted on one or more of four charges:

1) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace.

2) Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crime against peace.

3) War Crimes

4) Crimes against humanity.

Four judges who were, German, French, English and Russian speakers required immediate translations during the court proceedings. The solution was an instantaneous translation system created and provided by IBM.  The recently coined crime of “genocide,” was prosecuted for the first time at the trials was developed by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born lawyer who lost 50 members of his family in the Holocaust.

Also, for the first time, film provided indisputable evidence both of the war and the liberation of concentration camps. Hollywood directors John Ford, George Stevens and Samuel Fuller captured raw footage that became a documentary titled, Nazi Centration Camps. This film became crucial evidence, presenting the crimes the Nazis committed in an unflinching and authentic format to the court.

The Museum’s current special exhibit, Filming of the Camps, From Hollywood to Nuremberg: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens, is viewable through August 3, 2017, at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. It introduces viewers to the three filmmakers who expertly filmed the liberation of the camps.  You’ll explore their experiences during WWII, see their footage and the incredibly detailed “captions” they wrote for the scenes they captured, and the impact of what they witnessed had on their lives.  The exhibit includes interviews with the directors as well.  Visit this Museum through August 3rd to learn about the using film as evidence during the Nuremburg trials. 

Subsequent trials ensued in Nuremberg, and other locations as Nazi war criminals who escaped to South and North America and beyond were found and brought to justice.

During the following seventy years since the Nuremburg Trials, famed Nazi hunters, such as Simon Wiesenthal, continued to research and ferret out Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice.  Join us for opening night of the play, Wiesenthal.

Sources:

The American Heritage World Picture Book of World War II by C.L. Sulzberger and the Editors of

American Heritage, The Magazine of History

 

Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 by William L. Shirer (1941)

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/nuremberg-war-crime-trials/

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-nuremberg-trials

.

http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441293

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/16/last-trial

Public Statement Concerning Recent Antisemitic* Acts in the U.S.

 

By now, all of us know well the dangers of unchecked prejudice and hatred. In spite of this knowledge, a growing tide of antisemitic acts and words is sweeping across our country–Jewish cemeteries and other memorials are being desecrated, 69 bomb threats have been made to dozens of Jewish Community Centers, Jewish students are threatened on our nations’ campuses, and anti-Jewish and anti-Israel social media rants are appearing with frightening regularity. The mission of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. In light of our mission, we call upon every American to become an Upstander; to take action against prejudice, hatred and indifference by speaking up against these acts whenever and wherever you can.

*The Museum purposely chooses to spell antisemitic this way.

Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Receives Inaugural Upstander Award Named in His Honor from the Dallas Holocaust Museum

popefrancisandcardinalfarrell
Pope Francis greets Cardinal Kevin. J. Farrell at the Vatican

The Dallas Holocaust Museum presented its inaugural Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Upstander Award to the Cardinal in recognition of his outstanding commitment to human rights and dignity at a special reception at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek on Thursday, Dec. 1.

The new award named in honor of Cardinal Farrell will recognize prominent individuals whose actions are in line with the Museum’s mission to educate school children and adults about the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. The award is one of the Museum’s highest honors.

In videotaped acceptance remarks, Cardinal Farrell, appearing from the Vatican in Rome, said: “I have always believed that we are one human family, and we all have to get together and help each other create a better world for everybody. We all need to love and care for each other.”

On September 1, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Farrell to a new post at the Vatican, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life—focused on the lives of ordinary Catholics around the world—making him the highest-ranking American clergyman serving at the Vatican. Since 2007, he had served as the seventh Bishop of Dallas, as well as the chancellor of the University of Dallas. On November 19, 2016, Pope Francis raised Farrell to the rank of Cardinal.

“Cardinal Farrell has dedicated his life to helping others. As a person who stands up against hatred, speaks out and takes action to assist victims, he exemplifies what it means to be an “Upstander,” said Mary Pat Higgins, President, and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. The opposite of a bystander, an Upstander is a person who stands up and speaks up for what is right, even if, at times, they stand alone.

Shortly after his arrival in Dallas in 2007, then-Bishop Farrell quickly demonstrated Upstander activities in the community. He has led marches and spoken at Dallas City Hall to promote immigration reform and compassionate treatment of all immigrants, especially thousands of undocumented migrant children fleeing political violence in Central America. He condemned domestic violence, stressed the importance of female engagement in the Church and brought attention to parishes in need of money.  He is honored lay volunteers for their service and commitment. In 2014, he invited the family of a Dallas Ebola victim to stay at a church-owned-  house as they waited in quarantine to see if they had contracted the deadly disease.

“We help people because we’re Catholic, not because they’re Catholic,” he said at the time in response to a reporter who asked why the diocese was helping the non-Catholic family.

Following the tragic shooting on July 7 of police officers in downtown Dallas, which killed five officers and injured nine others, along with two civilians, then-Bishop Farrell joined both civic and faith leaders in prayer for peace and healing.

Last year, at the behest of then-Bishop Farrell, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas co-presented the special gallery exhibit Holocaust by Bullets with the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The exhibit presented ten years of research and investigation by a Catholic Priest, Father Patrick Dubois, about the systematic murder of two million Jews who were shot and left in unmarked graves in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine during the Holocaust.

Holocaust Museum Board-Chair Elect Florence Shapiro presented the Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Upstander Award to Bishop Greg Kelly, Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

“In celebrating an occasion such as this one tonight, I am reminded of the words of Elie Wiesel, of blessed memory, Mrs. Shapiro said.

“Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.”

“To our friends at the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, thank you for your gift of hope as you stand with us as partners in every true sense.”

–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

December 8 Film Night: “The Long Way Home”

Join us on Thursday, December 8 for a special screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Long Way Home, narrated by Morgan Freeman. The film will be screened in conjunction with our current special gallery exhibit, Rebirth after the Holocaust: Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950.

The Long Way Home tells the story of thousands of Jewish survivors as they tried to reclaim their place in the world following World War II and the Holocaust. Using rare archival footage and stills, news reels, and interviews, the film depicts the challenges refugees faced in displaced persons camps—refugee centers set up specifically for survivors of the Holocaust.

This companion film echoes the true stories of survival and liberation presented in the Museum’s current exhibit. Come see the film and tour our exhibit to witness the revival of Jewish culture in the unlikeliest of places, as well as the struggle to establish a homeland. Learn about the years of delayed freedom, uncertainty, and physical hardship before the refugees were finally permitted to begin new lives in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere.

The Long Way Home starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, at the Museum. Run Time is 120 minutes. The screening is free, but RSVP is required. Register at Eventbrite.

 

In Sarajevo, Hope Emerged Among the Diversity of the Human Spirit

ESsarajevoAs journalist and photographer Edward Serotta approached one of the last places of refuge in war-torn Sarajevo—an aging synagogue run by a cross-section of Sarajevo citizens—he could hardly believe the devastation that lay before him.

Refugees of all backgrounds, ethnic groups, and religions had gathered at the Jewish humanitarian aid agency known as La Benevolencija with nothing but the clothes on their backs, while Serotta himself, a neutral party in the conflict, entered the synagogue in a flak jacket and blast helmet.

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Zachor: At Yom Hashoah 2016, We Remember the Children

RememberThe Nazis and their collaborators murdered more than 1.5 million Jewish children between 1933 and 1945—one of the many despicable crimes of the Holocaust.

Every child had a name, a family, a place they called home.

On May 5, at the Museum’s Yom Hashoah 2016 service of remembrance at Dallas’ Congregation Shearith Israel, the children of the Holocaust were memorialized with music, the reading of their testimonies, prayers, and tears.

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In Sadness and Hope, We Will Never Forget: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016

IHRD3
Survivor Rosa Blum and Museum President Mary Pat Higgins
IHRD2
Rabbi Zell lights one of the memorial candles in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, the world comes together to honor the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Designated by the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27) sets aside one day a year for member states of the UN to commemorate the lives lost at the hands of the Nazis and to emphasize the need to develop educational programs that might help prevent future genocides.

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For Young Investigator, “Holocaust By Bullets” is a Never-Ending Search for Truth, Dignity

AlexisFor Alexis Kosarevsky, the newly-hired translator for the French organization Yahad-In-Unum and a native of Ukraine, the moment in 2008 was transformative.

Yahad-In-Unum was founded in Paris in 2004 by leaders in the French Catholic and Jewish communities to locate, map, cover and memorialize the sites of mass graves of Jewish victims of the Nazi mobile killing units during World War II operating in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Poland and Moldavia.

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