The Canadian Jewish News, Thursday, September 17,1981 - Page 5
By SHELDON KIRSHNER
HEPPENHEIM, West Germany,— IFoarth of ai series] '
West Germany's Jewish legacy is widely dispersed and found in museums, sym-gbgues and cemeteries, institutions of higher learning and libraries. - These aforementioned places, so disparate in spirit and mood, provide a glimpse at German Jewry — past, present and, perhaps, future.
Martin Bnber, the great phUcMopher, lived In this attractive town, almost midway between Frankfort and Heidelberg, firbm 1916 to 1938. Hounded ont of Germany by the.Nazis In 1938 — th& year of Crystal Night — Bnber hnmigrated to Palestine, and re-established his academic career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Author of the seminal work, '*l and Thou," Buber died in 1965. He was one of the foremost sons of German Jewry — a richly integrated community whose contributions to Germany were legion in the pre-Hitler era.
Buber. who lectured at the University of Frankfurt before his departure, wrote I and Thou in a two-storey house which is now a museum and West German headquarters of the International Council of Christians and Jews.
Heppenheim. situated in a hilly winegrowing region, used to be home to a modest Jewish community, says Margarita Exler, a Christian volunteer at Martin Buber House.
"In 1942," she relates, "Heppenheim's remaining Jews— 14,1 think — were taken to the market square by the Gestapo and transported to concentration camps.''
During the war. the Nazis distributed rations from Buber's house — ah unlikely fate for such a sanctum — and for about 30 years after that the rooms were used as offices.
Three years ago, when the house seemed on the verge of falling victim to the wrecker's ball, it was renovated by the local state government. In 1979, it was made available to the International Council of Christians and Jews.
Martin Bnber House fulfils two functions. It is a musenmi albeit a modest one, of Buber's life. And tthonses the International Council of Christians and Jews which. In Ms. Exler's words, attempts "to promote understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Germans.'*
ICCJ has sponsored conferences on the Holocaust, anti-semitism, neorNazism and Israel, and in the future, it hopes to conduct research on anti-Semitic stereotypes in religious and historical textbooks.
Ms. Exler■ a gentle, soft-spoken soul who oozes sincerity, arrived at Martin Buber . Hoiise via a circuitous route.
Born in South-West Africa, formerly a German colony, she moved to Germany in 1937, a keen enthusiast of Nazi ideology. "I had heard jews Vere bad people and I believed it,", she remarks.
She broke with National Socialism in the wake of Crystal Night, which disgusted her, "You cannot do harm to people because they're a little bit different.". ■ Repelled by the burning of synagogues, and the barbarism of Nazi creed, she withdrew into herself and began to read voraciously. Buber became one of her favorite writers. In her quest to better-understand Buber, arid Jews, she has visited Israel and formed, something of a friendship with his survivors..
in reply to a question; Ms. Exler — i piietiriie teaciier-—concedes that ;fe>ylpcaU visit Martin Buber House. ''Most of them are more interested in football and sports."
On occasion, she wonders .whether German-Jewish understanding can .be achieveid in her own lifetime. "There are many.Germans, particularly of the older generation, who'll never realize what happened. They feel the war was very haid for them ... When I sit on a train, I wonder what they think."
The notions which gave rise to Nazism-haven'tyetbeenburied, shesuggests. "My cbiisin, one of the kindest people 1 know, sincerely believes in the ideas of the Third : Reich . . ."
Rashi, the noted biblical andTalmodlc scholar, visited Worms In the 11th century at the hivitation of its small Jewish community, one that would suffer the slings of antl-«emltism repeatedly fan the centuries
Worms today has practically no Jews. On the eve of Hitler's accession to power in 1933, approximately 1,000 Jews reisided in this ancient metropolis, which gaiined fame from the activities of a rebellious churchman named Martin Luther.
A visitor who travels to-Worms by train from Franl^urt asks a taxi driver to deposit him at the Jewish cemetery — the oldest In Europe.,'
On Andreas Ring, near the Abbey of -^Worms, the cemetery is adjacent to:a busy railroad track. On one side, a huge yellow 'crane stands like a moristrbui insect;^::
The cemetery goes back tb 1076. Like Jewish cemeteries-in Poland^ ;|t is bver-grbvvn with weeds and shrtibs. it is, in one telling word, decrepit, especially on a rainy day.
It was spared destruction during the Nazi rule, owing to the' efforts of a rightepus German. But Worms' synagogue, inaugurated in 1034, and later razed by the Crusaders, was burned on Crystal Night in 1938.^-: '''/■\:X:.--.:'/r::r--y:'. ■:: ■,..''::
Thanks tbmunicpal, state and federal . funds, the synagogue was rebuilt in 1961; Given the paiicity of Jews in Worms and environs^jregiijar services are not held. Occasibriaiily, Jewish soldiers attached to U.S. forces in the area conduct services, says Karen Barth, who has looked after the synagogue for the last 11 years.
A Protestant, Mrs. Barth tells a traveler that about 1,600 visitors tour the synagogue every month. The curious come from the four corners of the world, including West Germany. , : ;"
; Next tb the synagogue, down a score ■■ of steps into murky silence, there is a mikvah dating back to 1185. h is no longer is use. But it is another jolting reminder of the past.
': • ■ * •
Jutta Bohnke-KoUwItz is a blond, handsome woman on the other side of 50. Her grandmother was Kathe KoUwltz, the Ulustrious graphic artist and sculptor whose sochdist beliefs put an abrupt end to her career after the rise of the Nazis.
Kathe Kollwitz, whose name was synonymous with Weimar culture, died in 1945.
Her granddaughter, who st udied German literature at Tubingen University, was enrolled in the Hitler Jugend for a brief period to divert attention from the family's anti-Nazi sentiments.
The Hitler Jugend interiudedid not affect Jutta Bbhnke-kollwitz. Her parents, who were Berliners, made sure their daughter would reject the tenets of Nazism.
Today, Jutta Bohnke-KoUwitz works hi the Germah-Judaica section of Cologne's central library. Together with Frankfurt University's collection, Cologne's is the largest of its kind in West Germany. She has been here since 1960, the year after the German-Jndaica section was established.
It was created by a group of German citizens who felt that German youth should be acquainted with Jewish history.
There are 32,000 books here, the majority in German. English and Freiich. "We have some Yiddish and a few Hebrew books." she says.
Subjects range from German and East Eiiropean Jewish history to Israel and Zionism.
On microfilm and microfiche are stored 19th and 20th century Jewish periodicals from Germahy, Austria, Czechoslovakia and other European countries.
Anti-semitic literature, running the gamut from revolting children's stories to pseudo-scientific treatises on the Jewish ancestry of Germany's nobility, are kept' here as well. -
"Nazis have come up here looking for books to confirm their theories," she recalls.'' 1 remember one time two men, one. old, the second young, came to find out more about the Rothschilds."
On the whole, however, the German-Judaica section does not attract anti-semites, but young, curious Germans — students, teachers and scholars. "Eighty percent of our clients are under 30," Mrs. Bohnke-Kollwitz discloses.
"They're astonished there are so many books about Jews;." she adds.
One-third of the books are new."We have nearly everything you can buy somewhere." she says. "But finding old books is a problem. The Nazis destroyed them, or emigrants fleeing Hitler took them."
In addition to lending'books to borrowers. the German-Judaica section provides another service. It has published a bibliography on German-Jewish . history, and hopes to issiie aguide on books of Jewish interest available in German libraries.
"We alsb want to produce a pamphlet on Jewish monuments and buildings in Germany," she says.
■ Above allj the German-Judaica section seeks to bring Jews and Germans closer . together after the trauma of the Holocaust. "We hope we can contribute to mutual understanding, "says Bohnke-Kollwitz. ■ - /♦ ■■■ ■■, »' ':-■'* ■■-
There's nothing like It bi Europe. Deep within the bowels of Heidelberg, on
a narrow, peaceful street Just minutes from, a quaint market square filled with tourists from every conceivable land, therCoU^e of Jewish Studies stands as a symbol of Jewish^ continuity hi Germany.
The college, Leon Feldman says, is "totally unique" on the European continent.
It is the only Jewish institution of higher learning which offers students an education in religious and secular subjects.
Feldman, its principal, is a distinguised scholar of Judaism ~ an American who has been affiliated with Rutgers University of New Jersey since 1962. He has also taught at Yeshiva University, and' was guest professor at Cambridge, Oxford, Hebrew University and the University of Toronto,
Born in Berlin of East European parents 60 years ago, Feldman .hasbeen associated with the College of Jewish Studies from the beginning, or 1979,
"I was very hesitant to come to Germany at first," he admits. "But I came to tiie conclusion that Jews who wish to reconstruct their lives —and their community — should be helped. I believe in the continuity of Jewish existence.".
Feldman, who devotes a portion of the year to building the College of Jewish Studies, says its purpose is twofold: to offer its students a broad Jewish education on an academic level, and to help provide the academic preparation IFor a cadre of Jewish professionals — religious functionaries and community workers and the like V who can service West Germany's Jewish community.
Sponsored by the Central Federation of Jewish Communities in Germany, the college receives funds from various German states: - ,
It has a close relationship with the University of Heidelberg, whose excellence* is long renowned. Students enrolled in the college do not receive degrees from the university — it grants its own — but courses are transferable.
"Heidelberg recognizes bur courses as credits toward a degree," he explains. "Students enrolled here are automatically enrolled at Heidelberg."
Sixteen fulltime students study at the college. But when Heidelberg students taking courses at the College of Jewish Studies are included, the total student body. part-time and fulltime, hovers around the 90 mark.
"If we have 100 regular students in the best of years, we'll have reached our goal," says Feldman. .
Students study a wide variety of subjects, including history, philosophy and classics. An MA. which is really a combination of a BA and a postgraduate degree, is offered.
Accbrding to Feldman, students take one major and two minors to obtain an MA. Majors include Bible, Talmud and Hebrew, Jewish history^ philosophy and literature; minors,, midrash, liturgy, contemporary Jewry, sociology and Jewish art.
The college has nine teachers, primarily from Israel and the U.S., and a libraty of some 16,000 books (half of which have yet to be stacked on shelves).
Two problems; both of which are related, plague the college at present. Students, as well as teachers, are hesitant to commit themselves to West Germany. "There isn't enough of a Jewish hinterland In West Germany," he explains, referring to the : potential pool of students.
And teachers who are prepared: to live In West Germany don't always have a command of German, the.official language of Instruction.
The College of Jewish studies faces an arduous . challenge, but Jews are no strangers to adversity, particularly in a country like West Germany.
TO THE EDITOR
Now that President Sadat has agreed to reopen talks with Israel on Palestinain independence it may be of some interest to , review the recent Israeli-PLO. confrontation. ■ ■. : '
The FLO has made it abundantly clear that it intends the violent overthrow of Israel. Recently, the leader of the Popular Front for the Libe^ion of Palestihe (PFLP,' a PLO faction) Ahmed Jibiril, informed the Lebanese newspaper As Safu- that PLO troops had received hundreds of millions of dollars worth of heavy weapons, resultingin an altered military balance. He indicated that Libyan assistance was of such magnitude that further Arab assistance was unnecessary; that the PFLP men were being trained in Libya on Soviet aircrafts and the time had come to reopen the Jordanian front against Israel.
On July 8 Yasser Arafat, addressing Iraqi ' "volunteers" to the PLC, warned of forthcomhig battles, concluding with the threat: "The river of blood, which has never ceased since the t>i<tset, will not cease until victory Is attahied." (Voice of Palestine)
In 1970 the United Nations made a declaration of principle that "no state shall ; organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed toward the violent overthrow of the regime of another state." However, principle is of little concern to the states which continue to assist, foment, finance and tolerate terrorist and armed activities directed toward the violent overthrow of the State of Israel.
In the first six mother of this year Libya and Syria were in the process of transforming the PLO from a guerrilla outfit into an armoured attack force.
In order to comprehend the effect on Israel of the array of arms possessed by the; PLO, one must adjust one's thinking to the distances invblved, and the Israeli require-. ment for buffer zones. (The narrow neck in the north of Israel is about the same
distance as the Toronto lakeshore from Lawrence Ave.) The 130 mm. guns can hurl projectiles 27 kilometres, and provide the PLO with open season on Israel's Galilee, "riie BM 21 portable katyusha rocket-launchers have a range of 30 kilomtres and the 20- and 40-barrel launchers are_more mobile and have immensely greater firepower than the maniially operated katy-ushas formerly operated by the PLO. In addition, the PLO has been supplied with SamJ arid. Sam-9 missile batterieis, immeasurably improving its anti-aircraft capability.
The PLO has always constituted Israeli civilians, men, women and children as legitimate targets, and Israeli fears in this respect were heightened when early in July, ground movements reflected the preparation by the PLOfor major operations against the civilian population of northern Israel.
In London, the Sunday Times reported "rocket-launchers, guns, tanks and antiaircraft missiles were observed moving southwards across the Zahrani and Litani Rivers."
With this kind of firepower the terrorist organisation would be able to strike Israeli targets from geographical areas north of the UNBFTL zone, effectively countering the very purpose for which the United Nations troops had been deployed between the combatants.
From July 10-21 there were 58 attacks on civilian communities in northern Galilee by the PLO; between July 15-21, 26,communities were pounded by 840 katyusha and artillery shells — including as targets a hospital and asynagogue. i,
In an attempt tb intercept new arins shipments Israeli planes-struck at. PLO convoys, depots and arsenals between July 10-J4; on July 16 they destroyed five bridges linkiiig PLO positions in the south, to scotch the flow of arms from northern arsenals.
Knowing that Israeli tactics do not include the inflicting of casualties among
is the lasting
By SHIMON BEN NOACH
A visit to France, the country in which they were born, turned into a nightmare for the Rosenkovitch family. It was an experience in which a week's anxiety and anguish as hostages in Entebbe earned them $68,000.
Now five years after the raid onEntebbe, . the hostages who were rescued from Uganda have finally received compensation for their ordeal. Air France conceded that their lax security enabled the hijacking to take place arid had to pay out more,than $2 million.
But what is the value of suffering?
"If I was offered ten times the amount to endure another Entebbe I'd flatly refuse," says Claude Rosenkovitch, a Jerusalem architect, who along with his wife Emriia " and two of their children, Noam, now 15 and Ella, 10 (at Entebbe they were 10 and 6) were amongst the 110 hostages.
The family hopes that the awarding of the compensation will mark the end of an
scientific age need modem Hebrew alphabet
Karen Barth ontslde.Worms' synagogue.
. The arguments in favor of writing Hebrew in the Latin A-B-C characters are logical and overwhelmingly convincing to anyone who is open-minded on the subject. Nevertheless nothing has been done to initiate the change perhaps because of two reasons: one, religious objections to tampering with the "holy" alphabet, and two, simple inertia. '
As for the first, I must remind the objectors that Hebrew has already gone through at least one change iri its historyi The script or block letters we know today are not the same as those used in ancient times, as may be perceived from perusal of earlier inscriptions. There is nothing holy about the letters-per se, and anything which can help simplify the language and make it more useful to Jews everywhere should be; encouraged. . ; r . As for the second reason. It is good to report that initiative is now already being taken Ui Israel to set up a movement systematically to promote the shift. I have long espoused the change and have written on the subject again and again for more than a quarter of a century. Today I find.that a Haifa scientist and linguist. Dr. Michael Avlnor, has launched a campaign to mobilize support for the gradual inbvduc-tlon of Latin letters in the writfaag of Hebrew, and to read/from left to right. . Interestingly enough. Dr. Avinor came to his conclusions for highly practical reasons • affecting the development of science and technology in Israel.At an eariy age in their education Israeli youth are confused by the need to write algebraic forriiulas in Latin characters (from left to right) while their Hebrew script goes in bpp<)site direction.. Chemicarformulas are also written.in the. letters of the Western world. Alj riumbers, whether in mathematics, bank statements or basketball scores are also read from left to right, leading to extreme difficulties when any of the latter have to be incorporated into a Hebrew teirt being printed on a typewriter. /
Sinreit-is impossible to transliterate the international expressions of mathairiatics or chemistry into Hebrew, English is beginning to take over. For exaniple, computer language is in English, pliysicians! pre-scriptiotis in Israel are all in English.
Medicines are labeled, in English:/ all because Hebrew script is inadequate^ , Avinor maintains that shifting from Hebrew into the Romari alphabet will in effect help preserve the language. The letters in which a tongue is expressed are ;^ only a medium, arid not the language itself. Modem Hebrew, in its ancieiit Assyrian square letters, is extremely difficult to read because of the absence of vowels, causing frequent misunderstanding and confusion of grammar; I have heard even skilled radio : and TV announcers stumble over a Hebirew .. word whose pronunciation Is unclear until the entire context lias been grasped. Hebrew scholars have for years sought to . grapple with this buUt-in weakness of ' Hebrew in its written/printed form.
All these problems would be eliminated by use of the Western alphabet. The change would also make possible differentiation between capital and lower case letters. :
To be sure, there are some sounds in Hebrew which can not be expressed by the A-B-C alphabet, and for these Avinor has devised a, few new letters. His Latin alphabet, adapted for Hebrew, he calls the ■ Karmelitic Script.
Experiments at writing technical papers in the Karmelitic Script have been tried on Techniori students, with great success. . Experimental study groups will be set up. Hopefully, some newspTpers in Israel maybe courageous enough to condiict a regular corner in the Karmelitic Script. * : It is recalled that Jabotinsky used to write his Hebrew in Latin letters, and even cbmposed a textbook for the teaching of Hebrew in that form. Almbst 50 years ago .' Ittamar Ben-Avi, son of the father of modern Hebrew. Ben Yehuda, published a weekly Hebrew paper using' the Roman : alphabet. His pioneer effort failed because. of conservatives who always resist change. / arid again. by religious extrerhists who ■. consider the actual aleph-bet letters to be God-given from Mount Sinai. But if the movement can be given . backing, endorsed by influential groups, and then popularized, the Hebrew language will be afforded a great boost and brpu^t more easily within the reach of Jews — and non-Jews .— everywhere. 'yy'"'""'''~'^'''^
Any reader who would like to help, or receive more faiformatlon, may write to me
civilians, the PLO has managed to obtain protection for its headquarters and nerve centres by shielding them in civilian areas. In 1979 requests by residents of Sidon for the PLO to remove its local headquarters fell on deaf ears. The PLO has knowingly endangered the li.ves of the civilian populations around its bases.
The ferocity of the. attacks against northern Israel forced Israel into a reluctant choice — to protect its own civilian population, it must destroy the command posts of the PLO which were directing the attacks against northern Israel.
The headquarters of the Iraqi-backed Arab Liberation Front in Sidon, and the headquartersof the PFLP in Damur, as well as PLO training centres south of Lyre were attacked, but the PLO continued to bombard the civilian communities in northern Israel with rockets and shells.
Finally, on July 17, Israeli aircraft hit the PLOs command centre in Beirut, which housed E!l Fatah's headquarters, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine's headquarters, and Fatah's intelligence school, with a tragic loss of civilian life.
Yet, one must realize the consequences of Israeli failure to implement protective measures In the face of blatant enemy attack and policy of destruction — the prospect of once again becoming the pro-verfobd "fish in the barrel." To be shot «t will by forces with more and more sophisticated weapons, is not one that can be readily tolerated by brael.
Already Libya has announced it will replace all weapons lost by the PLO in the recent fighting, and Saudi Arabia has announced it will-pay $20 million to the PLO for loss of equipment.
And what do you think the PLO will do with its new armaments?
Morley S.Wolfe Toronto
directly at Technion City, y;Israel.
32 000 Haifa,
episode that inevitably wID always haunt them. They are satisfied with the sum they have been granted. Each hostage receives S17,000, while those unlndiyoneswho were injured wHI get even.niore. This figure is the result of a group lawsuit and includes deduction for lawyer's fees and a donation, agreed upon by aO the hostages, to the . Israel Security Fund and to Hershel Sfurin, •• an Israeli soldier crippled during the odd. But most of all the Rosenkovitches remain grateful that the Israeli army brought them home safely and that the children have grown up with no psychological scars.
Rather like German reparation payments for the Holocaust, money can never repair the damage done. Sarin will never regain the use of his arms and legs. Jonathan Natanyahu', the raid's leader, and hostage . Dora Bloch, cannot be returned to life. Neither can the painful memories of those like the Rosenkovitches be erased.
Indeed in its small but spectacular way Entebbe echoes the expeirience of the Holocaust biit demonstrates the difference between the pre-Israel arid the post-Israel : periods: now the Jewish people have : learned how to look after themselves as a sovereign jpeople, Israel can help to make its own history and not rely totally on others.
The Rosenkovitches, who lost many of their own family when the i^azis occupied ■ France,; chillingly recall the manner in which the terrorists, two of them poignantly being German, separated the Jewish passengers from the rest.
.No writer could have dreamed up as rich a plot as Entebbe to symbolize the role of salvation that Israel represents for the Jewish people. The fairy tale ending, with the Israeli army arriving to snatch the hostages from the jaws of death, .has a, . universal dramatic appeal. In Idi Amin is an evil aind eccentric character of a magnitude that even James Bond has never had to confront.. y'''. :
■ But in fiction Entebbe has • become distorted; The Rosenkovitches feel only disdain for the: Entebbe cult of books arid films that have sensationalized and trivialized an event that is sacred to them.' 'We all watched one of the filriis on television and saw no resemblance tb what vve experienced," says Claude. "Throughout our : ■ captivity the terrorists behaved politely. The two Germans were tough.but civil arid the Arabs were confused and uncertain; We were all scared, including the terrorists, yet the film showed them. as savage: fanatics' and us as noble heroes," . But the lesaie was of necessity dra^ tically executed. The RMenkovltches knew notUng about It imtil literally the moment that the Israelis burst Into the hall fai which — they were behig held. '<When the bullets flew, then; our fear vanisiied," recalls Emma. "We threw ourselves on top of our children to protect them." -. But despite their knowledge that terrorists are not the evil stereotypes the movie makers would have us believe, the Rosen-kovitches have no sympathy for international terrorism. However, they point out that terrorists only exploit problems, they do not make them. They believe that the
• politicians must sit down and find a solution. ."'.r^
The Rosenkovitches are glad to see that the airlines at least have learned the lesson of Entebbe arid tightened their security, There has been no similar hijacking of a flight coming to or from Israel since the events of July 1976. In many ways then, Entebbe was a landmark in the struggle : against international terrorism. Only^tinfe
• will tell, whether the world will now > understand how to move forward from this
landmark in the right direction. ; ^
[World ZIonbt Pi«^ Servlo^]