My Interview with Madene Shachar—Museum Educator at The Ghetto Fighters Museum

Yesterday I had the privilege to interview Madene Shachar, Museum Educator at The Ghetto Fighters Museum.

The Ghetto Fighters’ House – Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum– known as the “House” – is not only the first Holocaust museum in the world but also the first of its kind to be founded by Holocaust survivors. The museum was established in 1949 to educate people about the Holocaust during World War II, emphasizing the bravery, spiritual triumph and incredible ability of Holocaust survivors and the fighters of the revolt to rebuild their lives in a new country about which they had dreamed—the State of Israel.

We spoke about the museum as well as the current situation in Israel.

Ghetto Fighters’ House Talking Memory: The First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz 03.27.2022

Last Sunday I once again had the privilege to be invited and attended a presentation, organised by the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum, As before I was astounded how little I actually know about the Holocaust.

This the the recording of that presentation and the explanation about the event.

If the Wannsee Conference discussed plans to target young Jewish women as part of its Final Solution protocol that part of the minutes was destroyed. What we do know is that a few weeks after that meeting, Himmler ordered the creation of a women’s camp in Auschwitz. In preparation, he visited Ravensbruck to commandeer female German prisoners to oversee the young Jewish women about to be imprisoned in the new women’s camp in Poland. So began the official systematic annihilation of Jews, which attacked, first and foremost, unmarried Jewish girls and young women, between the ages of 16 and 32. This little-known history of how young women were targeted in 1942, reminds us of the plight of young women today.

Heather Dune Macadam, author of the book 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz, spoke about her research for the book and the soon-to-be-released film 999. She revealed these young women’s poignant stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women’s history.

This first official transport to Auschwitz from Slovakia in March, 1942 deported almost 1000 young, unmarried Jewish women boarded a train in Poprad. One of the women on this transport was Prof. Hanna Yablonka’s aunt, Lila Klein, from the nearby town of Levoča, in the Tatra Mountains. Another young woman from the same town was Yuci [Jozi] Foldi (her Slovak name was Julia Skodova). She was one of the few women who survived the transport. Skovada’s testimony, which she chronicles in her book, Three Years Without a Name: Auschwitz 1942-1945, is extraordinary because she was a witness to what Hanna Yablonka has described as the “archeology of Auschwitz” – the step-by-step the implementation of the Final Solution in this camp.

In her presentation, Yablonka discussed the preparations to publish Skodova’s book, the unique experience of Slovakian Jews in the history of the Final Solution, including her family’s personal story, and the tragic fate of Julia Skodova.


Ghetto Fighters’ House Talking Memory: Belzec Death Camp – The Genesis of Genocide 6.2.22

Last Sunday I had the privilege to be invited to another presentation organised by The Ghetto Fighters’ House. The presentation was on Belzec concentration camp.

A truly fascinating presentation, below is the information on the recorded session and the YouTube recording.

“The Belzec Death Camp was the first of the three Operation Reinhard camps. As the first camp, Belzec served as the prototype for the two subsequent camps, Sobibor and Treblinka. Belzec has been called the “forgotten camp”. One of the main reasons is that only three Jews survived. Two gave testimony about their experience at Belzec immediately after the war, and one of them was murdered right after giving his testimony. Chris Webb is one of the only researchers in the world that has extensively investigated the unique story behind the Belzec Death Camp. During his talk, Webb presented sources that were discovered in recent years and help us to better understand how the camp where over half a million Jews were killed actually operated. Tali Nates, Director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Center, shared her family’s Holocaust history, their life in Nowy Targ before the war and their fate during Nazi occupation. Drawing on documents, family photos, testimonies and more, she explored the story of one family who was murdered in Belzec.

This program is in partnership with Liberation 75, Remember the Women Institute, the Rabin Chair Forum, Classrooms Without Borders, the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site, and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Center.”