More than 750 survivors of the infamous Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, where an estimated three million persons–most of them Jews–were put to death by Hitler’s forces, met here tonight in their first reunion since their liberation by Allied armed forces 15 years ago this spring. The reunion took the form of a memorial dinner at the Concourse Plaza Hotel.
The one-time slave-laborers of Auschwitz paid tribute to the United States Government, and to the United Jewish Appeal which helped to bring them here following World War II and start life anew as free men. They were addressed by United States Senator Jacob K. Javits who represented President Eisenhower, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Jewish Agency, and Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, executive vice-chairman of the UJA.
In a scroll to the United Jewish Appeal, the Auschwitz survivors declared that their first contacts in the spring of 1945, with the UJA and its beneficiary agencies, made them “realize that we had not been forgotten and sustained our belief in a better future.” The citation went on to state that “with the financial help and moral support” of American Jews through the United Jewish Appeal “we were able to return to a life of dignity and take our place as equal citizens in a free country.”
The scrolls were presented by Norbert Wollheim, who is chairman of the Auschwitz-Buna Memorial Scholarship Fund. The Fund will be made up of contributions by the survivors out of monies which they will receive from an $8,000,000 settlement secured from I.G. Farben, German firm which operated a slave labor synthetic rubber plant at Auschwitz during World War II. All the survivors at tonight’s dinner were employed in the Farben plant.
SEN. JAVITS ACCEPTS SCROLL FOR EISENHOWER; ADVOCATES IMMIGRATION
In accepting the scroll presented to the American people for President Eisenhower, Senator Javits made a strong plea for the enactment of suitable civil rights legislation by Congress and support of the President’s recent call for more liberal immigration laws. The Senator declared that to have the kind of world in which an Auschwitz cannot occur, it is necessary for free countries to provide “freedom of movement and the relief of those who are refugees or escapees from tyranny.”
In accepting the scroll awarded to the United Jewish Appeal, Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman pointed out that this was the first time in its 21-year history that the UJA has ever received such a formal expression of gratitude “although I am sure that in millions of hearts these sentiments have always existed.” Stressing that “we are still suffering from the legacy of Hitlerism,” he said:
“It is a heritage of problems which it will take the Jewish people many years to solve to completion. The UJA has resettled more than 1,300,000 Jews in Israel and other free lands, all of them victims of oppression, fear and poverty whose roots lie in Hitlerism and related movements. But to this day we must continue to bring help to hundreds of thousands who are still suffering from the after-effects of the worst holocaust ever directed against a single people.”
Dr. Nabum Goldmann, chairman of the Jewish Agency, addressing the audience, warned that “the world has to continue to be watchful against the dangers of the resurgence of the Nazi tendency.” He told the group that as survivors of Auschwitz, they should be prepared to fulfill two important tasks. “The first of these,” he declared, “is to be a living example of the heroism and stubborn will to survive which is characteristic of the Jewish martyrs of the Nazi period.
“The second,” he stated, “is to continue to be a reminder to the world of what intolerance, aggressive nationalism, brutal race superiority and the callous attitude of the free world may bring about for humanity. The world has to continue to be watchful against the dangers of the resurgence of the Nazi tendency, and who can warn the world with more authority and dramatic impact than the survivors of the Nazi horrors themselves.”
Senator Javits and Dr. Goldmann received, as mementos, genuine examples of the famous “Yellow Stars” bearing the word “Jude” (Jew) which Jews under Hitler had to wear. The stars they received were mounted on black backgrounds.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.