Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Over at Crooks and Liars, I linked two pieces. First, at the Conversation, "The 1938 Kindertransport saved 10,000 children but it’s hard to describe it as purely a success":

One of the UK’s most significant child rescue efforts began on December 1, 1938: the Kindertransport.

Following the November pogrom of the same year – when SA paramilitary forces and German civilians perpetrated acts of state-sponsored violence against the Jewish population, their places of worship and property – pressure built on the UK to help Jewish citizens in the German Reich. In response, the British government decided to waive visa requirements for unaccompanied minors fleeing persecution.

Aid organisations both in the UK and on the continent leapt into action, and the first “Kindertransport” arrived in the country on December 2, bringing around 200 child refugees to the UK. Overall, approximately 10,000 children and young people arrived before the scheme ended with the outbreak of World War II.

Today, the legacy of the Kindertransport is frequently discussed as a positive example of the UK’s humanitarian attitude towards refugees in the past. However, in the last 20 years, extensive research has shown that the legacy of the 1938/39 Kindertransport should be seen in a more critical light. Yes, it was a visa waiver scheme initiated by the UK government, but financial and organisational support was largely provided by charities and volunteers. It also only allowed those under the age of 17 to find refuge in the UK. Adult refugees had to meet very restrictive criteria and most applications from adults were unsuccessful.

Second, at NPR, a rare positive story, "A Toy Monkey That Escaped Nazi Germany And Reunited A Family":

The monkey's fur is worn away. It's nearly a century old. A well-loved toy, it is barely 4 inches tall. It was packed away for long voyages, on an escape from Nazi Germany, to Sweden and America. And now, it's the key to a discovery that transformed my family.

The monkey belonged to my father, Gert Berliner, who as a boy in Berlin in the 1930s rode his bicycle around the city. Clipped to the handlebars was the toy monkey.

"I liked him," recalls my dad, who is now 94. "He was like a good luck piece."

Both pieces are worth checking out.

My longer, original posts on the Holocaust and related themes can be read here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK Day 2019

For the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., I have King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis on in the background. It's a 1970 documentary, just over three hours, that originally showed in movie theaters as a one-day special event. One of the local TV stations has broadcast it occasionally. It's a great collection of footage and audio recordings.

The local PBS station has sometimes rerun Eyes on the Prize, but this year has been showing Henry Louis Gates' four-hour series, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise today and last week.

Over at Crooks and Liars, I linked "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," which remains timely, and The Academy of American Poets's nice collection of poems for the day. And over at Hullabaloo, Dennis Hartley offers 10 films for MLK Day.

How are you celebrating the day?