Before Auschwitz Was Auschwitz

Exhibit examines the shtetl that was prelude.

Associate Editor

Once upon a time, so long ago, long before the end of the story, the Jews of Central Europe would take trains to Auschwitz for the privilege of dying in its mystical terrain. In “Sefer Oshpitzin,” the town’s yizkor book, compiled by residents of the now extinct shtetl, one man recalled those “whose entire lives revolved around the desire that, after their demise, they should be interred in Oshpitzin,” as the town was known in Yiddish. Some “lived for many years in wealth and dignity in Vienna. Yet in their declining years they moved to Oshpitzin.” They said, according to the book, “It is really good to live in Vienna, but one ought to die in Oshpitzin.” So many saintly and scholarly people were buried in the Auschwitz earth that it was thought to be transformed into holy ground. “Anyone who merited to be buried there,” said an old Auschwitz legend, “would not suffer travails at the time of resurrection.”

The Hotel Schmiedler in 1912, when many believed Auschwitz was a holy place to die, and better for resurrection. Miroslaw Ganobi

Unholy Ground: Dealey Plaza, Ma'alot, Auschwitz

Jewish Week Online Columnist

Conventions often take professionals to exotic locations, not least of all to entice potential participants to attend. Dallas was not chosen for my rabbinic convention- the Rabbinical Assembly- because it's exotic. It actually has a significant Jewish community, and our new president, Rabbi Bill Gershon, leads a major congregation there.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Marking Holocaust Remembrance At Auschwitz

Nearly half the Israeli parliament takes part in commemoration on 69th anniversary of camp’s liberation.


Oswiecim, Poland — Watching thousands of Poles dance to klezmer music just 50 miles from the Auschwitz death camp, Johnny Daniels could feel an ambitious plan taking shape.

Some of the 58 Knesset members who took part in a commemoration ceremony this week at Auschwitz. Photo via

Learning How My Father Escaped Execution At Auschwitz


Editor’s Note: Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

My father, Josef Rosensaft, decidedly did not want to be in Auschwitz. True, no one did, but my father actually did something about it. 


Frieda Hikind, Auschwitz Survivor And Assemblyman's Mother, Dies At 95

Assistant Managing Editor

Shiva was completed Monday morning for Frieda Hikind, 95, a Holocaust survivor and mother of Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn.

A Teen's Graphic Novel About The Holocaust


o blogger Aaron Herman spoke with teenage author Christopher Huh about his new graphic novel, "Keeping My Hope." Christopher started writing "Keeping My Hope" when he was 13 years old. It took him about a year and half to complete the book. To write Keeping My Hope, Christopher spent over a thousand hours conducting research on WWII and the Holocaust by searching the Internet, checking out books from the library, visiting the Holocaust museum, and interviewing Holocaust survivors.

Slow Food By Auschwitz

The menu sounds delicious, but is this in good taste?
Staff Writer

The affiliate of New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage that runs the Auschwitz Jewish Center, a museum and synagogue in the town that gave its name to the concentration camp complex, is raising money on Kickstarter to open a café in the home of the town’s last Jew.

The Auschwitz Jewish Center. Photo via Kickstarter

The Tattoo: Still Taboo?

Drew Barrymore gets hers removed, but tattoos among Jews persist, as in ancient times.
Special To The Jewish Week

Drew Barrymore, it has been reported in recent days, is having her tattoos removed.

Drew Barrymore is reportedly having her tattoos removed because her husband is Jewish. Getty Images

DvF And The Holocaust Memorial Museum

The fashion icon and daughter of survivors supports the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Diane von Furstenberg takes a seat at her long, farm table-inspired desk inside her office on the fifth floor in the Meatpacking District here. The studio is so vividly colored, so overly patterned and so decked out in exotic tchotchkes, von Furstenberg is one of the few people who could possibly occupy it.

Diane von Furstenberg. Getty Images

Auschwitz' Musical Geography

Auschwitz has a musical as well as physical geography, contends a Stanford University doctoral candidate in German studies. It helped the guards maintain control, and helped prisoners resist.

Using survivor testimonies and camp administration records, Melissa Kagen has mapped the music of Auschwitz: what was played, who played it and where.

A Stanford doctoral candidate has mapped Auschwitz' music: both forced and free.
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