The Forgotten Story of the Japanese Schindler and His Nemesis in the Gestapo

Two years ago, the German scholar Clemens Jochem wrote a book based on extensive research into the German-born industrialist Willy Foerster—long thought to have been a Nazi war criminal—showing that he in fact used his factory to save Jews in the Far East from the grip of the Third Reich. Liane Grunberg writes:

Josef Meisinger, known as the “Butcher of Warsaw” for crimes he had earlier committed in Poland, was sent to Japan [in] 1941. Until 1945, Meisinger served in Tokyo as a liaison between the Gestapo and the Japanese secret police. He worked tirelessly in those years at influencing the Japanese officials to persecute, imprison, and kill off its minuscule Jewish population and the approximately 20,000 refugees of Nazi-occupied Europe who had fled to Japan-occupied Shanghai. Failing at this aim, Meisinger turned to the persecution of those he suspected of anti-Nazi activity in Japan, chief among them, Willy Foerster.

Foerster first arrived in Tokyo in the early 1930s to launch a turret-lathe factory. In 1936 he lost his citizenship in his home country after Germany passed a new law that punished evaders of military service. Being a stateless resident of Japan didn’t hinder Foerster’s rise to fortune. He became wildly successful, founding several companies and employing hundreds of workers—among them many Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation of Europe—a move that provoked Meisinger’s ire. . . .

In May 1943, Meisinger had Foerster arrested, on accusations of spying for the Soviets and spreading antiwar propaganda. While in captivity, Jochem reports, Foerster was tortured by Meisinger. Foerster . . . was released in June 1944 after he agreed, under duress, to sell his factory at a price drastically below its value. Together with his Japanese wife, Hideko, and infant daughter, Erica, he was then put under house arrest.

After the war, Meisinger was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. But he nonetheless found a way to inflict more misery on Foerster:

On his way to the gallows, Meisinger . . . accused [Foerster] of complicity in his own long list of Nazi crimes. . . . Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the Allied Powers in the Pacific, issued an order to confiscate Foerster’s vast financial assets. On August 20, 1947, Foerster was tried as an alleged Nazi on board the USS General Black while being deported with his family back to Germany.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Holocaust, Japan, Nazi Germany, Righteous Among the Nations

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia