I recently posted photos of my trip to Greece and Turkey in March and April, 2023. I enjoyed the trip very much.
Constitution Gardens, Washington, DC
Spring is coming.
Abram Enzel (1916-1994)
Abram Enzel, was born in Częstochowa, Poland on June 18, 1916 to Chaim and Faigle Enzel. Chaim worked as a Kosher butcher. They had five children; three boys and two girls. Abram was the first born. In 1939, there were 28,500 Jews living in Częstochowa, which is 124 miles (200 km) southeast of Warsaw.
The Germans entered Częstochowa on Sunday, September 3, 1939, and persecution of its Jews began at once. More than 300 Jews were killed on the following day, which became known as “Bloody Monday.” On December 25, 1939, a second pogrom took place and the Great Synagogue was set on fire. The family survived both pogroms.
On the morning after Yom Kippur in September 1942, Abram was separated from his family. One brother, Nathan, had previously been taken by the Germans to a concentration camp. The other living members of Abram’s family were gassed and cremated three days later in Treblinka, a nearby concentration camp.
The Germans sent Abram to work in a munitions plant operated by HASAG (Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft-Metalwarenfabrik, Leipzig), one of the privately owned German industrial companies that used concentration camp prisoners to manufacture armaments. HASAG was the third largest of such companies, after I.G. Farben and the Hermann Goring Werke. HASAG operated four camps in Częstochowa, Poland. The largest, HASAG-Apparatebau, held seven thousand Jewish prisoners. The wages of the Jewish forced laborers were paid directly to the SS, the elite guard of the Nazi state. In general, the policy of Vernichtung durch Arbeit (“extermination through work”) was applied. Selections were held and those no longer fit for work were killed. From July 1944 to early 1945, HASAG transferred most of its equipment and Jewish workers to Germany. No HASAG personnel were put on trial by the Allies in the later Nuremberg war crimes trials.
In 1944, the Germans sent Abram from the HASAG munitions plant to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and from there to the Flossenbürg and Dachau concentration camps. One of Abram’s most poignant memories was of his forced move from the Flossenbürg concentration camp to Dachau, along with 500 other prisoners. In a 1973 interview with the Pittsburgh Press, Abram explained that “They made us march at first. But later they herded us like cattle on some old freight cars.” Out of the 500 prisoners who left Flossenbürg, only 18 arrived in Dachau alive, Abram among them.
On April 29, 1945, the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions and the 20th Armored Division of the US Army liberated Abram from Dachau, near Munich, Germany. The very next day Adolf Hitler committed suicide. At the time of Abram’s liberation, he weighed 78 pounds, compared with a healthy 130 pounds before his ordeal.
After the war in June 1946, 2,167 Jews had returned to Częstochowa to rebuild their community. Abram did not to return. He first recovered in Germany and then operated a grocery store in Bayreuth until 1951, when he emigrated to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After settling in Pittsburgh, Abram met Dora Weiss, who also settled in Pittsburgh after World War II. She was born in Munkács, Czechoslovakia, now known as Mukačevo, a city in Ukraine. Her parents died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. On June 8, 1952, they married and had a son David who was born on January 21, 1955.
Dora was later diagnosed with cancer. She passed away on July 30, 1958, at the age of 35. Abram did not remarry. In Pittsburgh, Abram worked in the H. J. Heinz plant and later moved to the Concordia Club, a private Jewish city club in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. He started as a bus boy and eventually moved up to maitre d’. The 30 years Abram spent at the Concordia Club were the happiest of his life.
David moved to Washington, DC in 1979 and Abram moved to Washington soon after his retirement from the Concordia Club in 1981 to be near his son. Abram passed away on May 10, 1994 in Washington, DC, the capital of the country that liberated him.
Abram’s oral history is available online from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Another oral history is in the American Jewish Committee Oral History Collection, which is part of the New York Public Library (Dorot Jewish Division). This collection includes over 6,000 hours of taped interviews.
Remembering Maison des Crêpes in Washington
I visited Washington for the first time as part of a weekend trip organized by my high school’s French club. We ate at Maison des Crêpes. I enjoyed it. The restaurant is long gone but I remember it and my trip when I pass by its former location in Georgetown.
The Streets of Washington blog recently shared this photograph of the Maison des Crepes on Flickr and explained its history:
Maison des Crepes originally opened as La Crepe in 1967 at 1305 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Georgetown. It was the creation of Paris-born Jacques Vivien (1925-2010), who began his Washington career as the maitre d' at The Jockey Club. Vivien was riding a fashion craze for creperies when he opened Washington’s first. He decorated the restaurant in French provincial style and had his waitresses decked out in Breton costumes. Eventually two other locations would open, and all would remain popular, especially with tourists, despite sometimes poor reviews from local dining critics. The original restaurant in Georgetown closed in the early 1980s.
This brought back nice memories. That weekend trip was wonderful.
You can read more about the restaurant here.
L’espérance de vie sans incapacité à 65 ans
La Direction de la recherche, des études, de l’évaluation et des statistiques (DREES) (France):
L’espérance de vie sans incapacité à 65 ans est de 12,6 ans pour les femmes et 11,3 ans pour les hommes, en 2021.
C’est plus tard que vous ne le pensez.
Voir aussi: Le Monde
China Not the First Country to Send Balloons Over US Airspace
British historian Mark Felton explains that the idea of using balloons over the United States has its origins in a daring Japanese operation in WWII to bomb the US and Canada.
La Première Ministre de la France Raconte la Déportation de son Père à Auschwitz
Elisabeth Borne a appelé à _« combattre de toutes nos forces l’antisémitisme », _lundi 13 février, lors du dîner annuel du Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France (CRIF), où elle a évoqué son histoire familiale et notamment la déportation de son père à Auschwitz.
« Il y a des dates, qui marquent un destin. Pour mon père, mais en réalité pour toute ma famille, c’est le 25 décembre 1943 », a déclaré la première ministre dont le père, de confession juive, a été déporté à Auschwitz. Survivant, il a mis fin à ses jours en 1972, quand sa fille avait 11 ans.
« Ce jour-là, avec mon grand-père et mes oncles, il a été arrêté par la Gestapo. Puis ce furent les wagons plombés, les ordres, les coups, les humiliations. Drancy, Auschwitz. Ils étaient 1 250 au départ. Six sont revenus », a raconté Mme Borne, qui était l’invitée d’honneur de ce traditionnel rendez-vous du CRIF.
Audrey Hepburn's Poignant Reaction to Anne Frank's Diary
Audrey Hepburn describing her reaction to reading the Anne Frank’s diary in 1946:
I was exactly the same age as Anne Frank. We were both 10 when war broke out and 15 when the war finished. I was given the book in Dutch, in galley form, in 1946 by a friend. I read it—and it destroyed me. It does this to many people when they first read it. But I was not reading it as a book, as printed pages. This was my life. I didn’t know what I was going to read. I’ve never been the same again, it affected me so deeply. We saw reprisals. We saw young men put up against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it, and you could pass by again. If you read the diary, I’ve marked one place where she says, ‘Five hostages shot today.’ That was the day my uncle was shot. And in this child’s words I was reading about what was inside me and is still there. It was a catharsis for me. This child who was locked up in four walls had written a full report of everything I’d experienced and felt.
Just How Strong is the West’s Support for Ukraine?
David L. Stern writing for The Washington Post:
“Our goal is absolutely clear — to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union,” Zelensky said, flanked by European Council Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Zelensky added that he thought the E.U. would be ready to begin such talks “this year.”
Von der Leyen, however, said there were “no rigid timelines” but rather “goals” that Ukraine needed to reach first. Michel, for his part, said the E.U. was with Zelensky and the Ukrainian people “today … tomorrow and for long as it takes.”
But it is still far from clear that Ukraine will be able to emerge intact from the continuing Russian onslaught. And though Zelensky in recent days has initiated a sweeping crackdown against corruption, Ukraine’s immediate future hinges far more directly on the delivery of weapons, including tanks, to help defend against what is expected to be a major new Russian offensive, perhaps starting within weeks.
Is Lab-grown Meat Kosher?
The Washington Post:
Last week, the leader of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate — a bellwether rabbinical council for religious certifications in Judaism — declared that an Israeli company’s lab-grown steak is “pareve.” That means, in his view, it is not milk or meat and that therefore the eating of the two together by those who follow a kosher diet is not forbidden.
But the declaration was greeted with surprise by Rabbi Menachem Genack, the chief executive of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division in New York. Orthodox Union Kosher is an influential federation of Orthodox synagogues in the United States and Canada. Genack, in an interview with The Washington Post, suggested that his organization may take a different view.
An Example of Mastodon Growth
Jorijn Schrijvershof describing the growth of his Mastodon instance1 in November 2022:
I love everything technical and jumped at the opportunity to start my instance. The days since were a wild ride. If memory serves me well, the first days went like this:
- November 4th: 60 users
- November 5th: 600 users
- November 6th: 6000 users
- November 7th: 15,000 users
But things have since cooled.
I’m still trying to understand Mastodon :).
This is the instance of Mastodon I am on. ↩︎
Where Are We With Covid?
Dr. Katelyn Jetelina writing on her Substack, “Your Local Epidemiologist“:
We will continue to see the virus ebb and flow—it will mutate, we will get waves, people will continue to miss work and daycare, and people will continue to be hospitalized and die, particularly those over 65 years and immunocompromised. The end of an emergency does not mean the end of disruption or suffering.
Today**, **roughly 500 Americans are dying each day from COVID-19. At this rate, SARS-CoV-2 will be the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2023—about triple the threat of influenza.
Le Monde: ‘L’appel du 18 juin du général de Gaulle reconstitué pour la première fois’
Le Monde Podcast: L’Heure du Monde:
L’appel du 18 juin est l’un des discours les plus célèbres de l’histoire de France. Il n’en existe pourtant aucun enregistrement. Charles-Henry Groult, chef du service vidéo du « Monde », a tenté de reproduire la voix du général de Gaulle grâce à un système d’intelligence artificielle. Pourquoi ce monument de l’histoire de France est-il aujourd’hui introuvable ? Comment recréer la voix d’un mort ? Quelles sont les limites, techniques et éthiques, d’une telle technologie ? Il raconte son enquête.
Aussi: Le Monde
Substack Introduces ‘Pledges’
Today we are excited to announce Pledges, an easy new way for readers to support your work. Pledges help writers build confidence that readers love and value their writing, and that they could succeed with a subscription model. We started rolling out Pledges in December, and the feature is available to all writers today.
Substack is doing everything it can to monetize blogging and to bring blogs within its platform. I’m not a fan. I much prefer the original model of people just wanting to share with others.
See also, Done with Newsletter Experiment.
January 30: “Machtergreifung” - “Seizure of Power”
In the German language, January 30 has been marked by the term “Machtergreifung,” or “seizure of power.” But power was not seized by Hitler; it was instead handed to him when Reich President Paul von Hindenburg appointed the Nazi leader Reich chancellor.
Les Russes Nourrissent Autorité
Toutes les données dont nous disposons nous disent que les Russes nourrissent aujourd’hui un désir de verticalité, c’est-à-dire d’autorité. Si nous voulions recourir aux catégories de la psychanalyse, nous pourrions dire que les Russes attendent un chef qui fasse oublier le langage de la mère et se remette à imposer la langue du père.
da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.
Social Media Takes Away From Normal Human Interactions
The 2016 comments of the late Tatjana Patitz on social media in Prestige Hong Kong magazine:
I think social media is going to kill everything, because it has nothing to do with anything. It’s all hashtag-watch-me-on-my-vacation-windblown-and-perfect. It has nothing to do with reality, or art. It’s a feeding frenzy. I feel sorry in one sense, because social media has produced some incredible creative endeavours. But I have a 12-year-old son who is entering this world of social media and hashtags and posts and it’s taking away from people having a normal rhythm of interacting with each other.
When I see a person who hasn’t done shit having millions of followers, having done nothing productive for the planet or otherwise, it pisses me off. I honestly believe it’s going to backfire. People spend so much time on their phones, but they don’t take in moments any more.
Le mage du Kremlin: Greta Garbo
Puis-je vous poser une question ? Savez-vous quelle est la plus grande actrice de tous les temps ? » Poutine, inexpressif, secoua la tête.
« Greta Garbo. Et vous savez pourquoi ? Parce que l’idole qui se refuse renforce son pouvoir. Le mystère génère de l’énergie. La distance alimente la vénération. L’imaginaire de la société russe, de quelque société que ce soit, s’articule sur deux dimensions. L’axe horizontal correspond à la proximité du quotidien, et le vertical à l’autorité.
da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (pp. 93-94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.
Washington, DC (January 29, 2023)
Le mage du Kremlin: ‘Les Russes jouent avec l’argent’
Les étrangers pensent que les nouveaux Russes sont obsédés par l’argent. Mais ce n’est pas ça. Les Russes jouent avec l’argent. Ils le jettent en l’air comme des confettis. Il est arrivé si vite et si abondamment. Hier il n’y en avait pas. Demain, qui sait ? Autant le claquer tout de suite. Chez vous, l’argent est essentiel, c’est la base de tout. Ici, je vous assure, ce n’est pas comme ça. Seul le privilège compte en Russie, la proximité du pouvoir. Tout le reste est accessoire. C’était comme ça du temps du tsar et pendant les années communistes encore plus. Le système soviétique était fondé sur le statut. L’argent ne comptait pas.
da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 49). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.
Certes ce roman, achevé par l’auteur en janvier 2021, éclaire l’actualité géopolitique d’une lumière pénétrante. Mais il lui survivra par son implacable lucidité et son style étincelant.
Le Monde (Macha Séry)
Doomsday Clock: ’90 Seconds to Midnight’
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.
Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by manmade technologies.
January 27 Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
This year, the theme of the UN Holocaust Remembrance Day is “home and belonging”, two concepts that were systematically ripped away from Jewish citizens, once the Nazi Party took control of Germany in 1933.
The World Holocaust Remembrance Center has specially updated its exhibition, “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” for display at United Nations Headquarters this year. “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” details alphabetically the name of each of the approximately 4.8 million Holocaust victims that Yad Vashem has currently documented and confirmed. Whenever possible, “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” shows the date of birth, home town and place of death of the respective victim. The names are taken from Pages of Testimony in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names, as well as from various lists compiled during and following the Holocaust, and subsequently reviewed by Yad Vashem experts. The display of “The Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” at the United Nations is supported by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations.
At the inauguration of the U.N. installation, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Nazis tried to rob millions of Jews of their names before killing them during World War II — but explained that they failed and all those slaughtered “shall never be forgotten.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public. Guests are welcome to visit the exhibition during regular hours (Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm). For more information, please, check the United Nations Visitor Centre entry guidelines.
EU Has Sent €3.6 billion to Ukrainian Military, Mostly from Germany
Soon after Russia began its major offensive on Ukraine last February, the EU made the historic decision to use money from a relatively new fund, known as the European Peace Facility, to back Kyiv. It was the first time it had been used to supply lethal weapons to a third country.
Since then, the EU has committed some €3.6 billion in collective funds to the Ukrainian military, which pays for a combination of lethal and non-lethal aid. Contributions to the European Peace Facility are calculated according to each country’s economic output. As a result, Germany, which has the largest GDP in the bloc, contributes the most.
The EPF can also be used to reimburse member states for aid they have individually sent to Ukraine. For example, Poland — one of Ukraine’s biggest military backers — has indicated it will seek EU funds to cover the cost of Leopard 2 tanks Warsaw wants to send to Kyiv.
Was 2008 the Breaking Point in the West’s Relationship with Russia?
After [Bill] Clinton and his advisors left office, they could only watch in alarm as Bush’s son, George W. Bush, took the keys to the NATO car and gunned it down that open road. Among other stops, the younger Bush attended the alliance’s summits in 2006 in Latvia, the first such event on former Soviet territory, and in 2008 in Bucharest, where he pushed hard for inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine. For Putin, that Bucharest summit—coming on top of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and his 2007 decision to erect ballistic missile defenses (in the form of ten ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic), all around the time of “color revolutions” in post-Soviet states—proved to be the breaking point.
Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (p. 348). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted)
On the Importance of Ukraine in 1991
With roughly 52 million inhabitants at the time, Ukraine was, in population terms, both the second-largest Soviet republic and the size of a major European state; the British and French populations were 57 and 58 million, respectively. 135 Ukraine’s history as an East Slavic and predominantly Orthodox state had long been deeply intertwined with Russia’s. There were millions of ethnic Russians living among, and married to, Ukrainians. If Ukraine decided in its referendum of December 1, 1991 to become fully independent, it would at once commence a painful economic and political divorce from its fellow Slavs and also become a greater nuclear power than either Britain or France. Ukraine’s choices would clearly have such far-reaching effects. From Moscow, [U.S.] Ambassador [Robert S.] Strauss advised Washington that “the most revolutionary event of 1991 for Russia may not be the collapse of Communism, but the loss of something Russians of all political stripes think of as part of their own body politic, and near to the heart at that: Ukraine.”
Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (pp. 126-127). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).