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Prague's old Jewish cemetery, contains 100,000 bodies, buried on top of the other, 12 layers deep. The oldest grave is that of poet Avrigdor Kara. His eyewitness elegy to the 1389 pogram, where 3,000 Jews were killed, still is recited every year in the Yom Kippur Day of Atonement services. The cemetery is now a tourist attraction, part of the "Jewish Prague" tour.

Traces of the Past

Text and photos by Jill Freedman APF fellow Jill Freedman traveled to eastern Europe to document the remnants of Jewish life in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. These residents of the Jewish home for the aged in Szeged, Hungary listen during a concert of the Israeli Women’s Choir in a synagogue now used for concerts. There are only 400 Jews left in Szeged, most in their 70s and 80s, and there are not enough people to support services, except on Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. More than 3,000 were killed by the Nazis. On the walls of the synagogue vestibule is a poem, in Hebrew and Hungarian, found written on the clothes of a 13-year-old girl. The clothes were lying outside the gas chamber in Birkenau. On April 19, 1941, the Nazi conference on “The final solution of the Jewish problem” was held in Prague, and soon after the first transports of Jews from Nazi-occupied countries left for ghettos and extermination camps. More than 150,000 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia, from 1941-45. This is

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Shoes from death camp victims at Majdanek. The Germans sent clothes, shoes, stolen gold and money back to Germany. Free use was made of the human body, in what Primo Levi called "stupid and symbolic violence," using the body as an anonymous thing disposed of in an arbitrary manner. Crematoria ashes were used as fill for swamp land, as building insulation, as fertilizer, and to cover paths in villages. Hair was used in mattresses, fishnets and riding crops. Even today, in all the death camps, you can take a handful of soil and find in it human bones.

The Reproachful Voices of the Dead

Text and photos by Jill Freedman A child at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach touches the face of a child. At least one and one-half million Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust. The German and their henchmen were brutal, throwing children out of windows, burying them alive and forcing them into ovens alive. A 12-year-old boy, whose mother had covered him with her body during a massacre in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1941, managed to climb over bodies in a burial pit and escape in darkness. There he was able to see that the earth covering the pit was moving, meaning others were alive, but unable to save themselves. These one and one-half million children are the missing generation of Jews. Every two years, Jewish youths, led by Holocaust survivors, visit the death camps. They burn memorial candles, often leaving messages. Then they travel to Israel, to commemorate the loss and the re-birth of life and hope. Many of the youths are grandchildren of survivors. In the camps was a slogan, “We are the

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Rose and Isak Arbuz, from New York, stand in front of the Warsaw grave commemorating his brother, his brother's girlfriend and another couple who were part of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943. Their skeletons were recovered from a basement and were buried together. The Jews fought from April 19 to May 16, longer than France and Poland fought against the Germans. There were only 220 insurgents against 2,090 Germans, Ukranians and Latvians. "All it was about, finally, was that we not just let them slaughter us when our turn came," wrote Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the uprising. "It was only a choice as to the manner of dying."


Text and photos by Jill Freedman In the Lublin region of Poland, on November 2, 1943, an operation, given the code name “Harvest Festival” by the Germans, was begun. Its object was the murder of those survivors of the Warsaw ghetto uprising who had been held since April in labor camps at Poniatowa, Trawniki and elsewhere in the Lublin region. In a few days, fifty thousand Jews were shot in ditches behind the gas-chambers of Majdanek, among them more than five thousand Jewish soldiers of the Polish army, who had been held prisoner for the previous four years in the Lipowa Street camp in Lublin. Brought to Majdanek in small groups from Lipowa Street on Nov. 2, the instinct for survival could not be crushed. Led by a former Hebrew teacher, with the surname Szosnik, the Jews broke through the armed guards shouting, “Long live freedom.” Members of the SS, Hitler and the Nazi Party’s paramilitary organization (Schutzstaffel), opened fire. Most of the prisoners were killed. According to Shmuel Krakowski’s “War of the Doomed: Jewish

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The aged members of the burial society sit in the Ceremonial Hall of the Jewish cemetery in Prague. Most of the 1,000 registered Jews in Prague are in their 70's and 80's. The chief of the cemetery, Arthur Radvanské, stands at right. He tended the bathrooms of the SS hospital in Auschwitz. He was ordered to massage Josef Mengel every Monday and Friday from 1942-1945 at Auchwitz.


Text and photos by Jill Freedman The Old New Synagogue in Prague is the oldest surviving synagogue north of the Alps and is barely functioning. It dates from the late 13th century. Most of the religious observant Jews in Prague are in their 70s and 80s. It’s hard for them to get ten men to pray on Sabbath, unless a tourist shows up. Weddings are an occasion. The bride, 21, is from Prague, the groom, 31 from Tel-Aviv. Both work for El Al in Prague. PRAGUE – Rabbi Karol Sidon is the only rabbi in the Czech Republic. His wife, Ruth, is a convert, and so is he, since their mothers were Christian. She didn’t even know of her Jewish grandmother until she was 33 and divorced with two kids of her own. Like most of Czech Jewry, her family was assimilated, so that when her father finally told her, she asked him why he waited so long. Why now? And got the standard reply: “It’s too hard to be a Jew. The cantor sings

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