The Forgotten Story of a Dutch Woman Who Saved Thousands of Jews from the Nazis

Geertruida “Truus” Wijsmuller, a Gentile born in the Netherlands, is the subject of newly released documentary that relates her efforts to rescue Jews from Europe on the eve of World War II—most importantly her role in arranging for the Kindertransport, in which a large number of Jewish children were brought from Germany and Austria to Britain. In 1938, Wijsmuller walked into the office of Adolf Eichmann, then the German official in charge of getting Jews out of Germany, and made a proposal, as Francine Wolfisz writes:

Leaning over the SS-Obersturmführer’s desk inside the Gestapo headquarters—formerly the Palais Rothschild in Vienna, [Wijsmuller] told Eichmann the British government was happy to take youngsters under the age of seventeen from Nazi countries for a temporary stay. “Let’s arrange it,” she said.

He, in turn, was astounded. “So Aryan and so insane,” he retorted. Snarling at her, Eichmann proposed an impossible task—if she could successfully take 600 children, she could have all 10,000. But it had to be done that Saturday. Logistics were one problem; convincing the most observant parents to let their children travel on the Jewish Sabbath . . . was a very different obstacle. But Wijsmuller proved Eichmann wrong and became a key part of not only the Kindertransport, but many other child refugee rescues throughout Europe during the Second World War.

While those she liaised closely with—including the late humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton—rightly received recognition for their efforts, Wijsmuller’s contribution is far from well-known, despite the fact she saved thousands of lives, often at great personal risk.

But it wasn’t just the Jewish community she helped. She saved the life of Thomas Benford, Jr, the son of a famous African American drummer in Paris, who was just days old when she took him to Amsterdam.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Holocaust, Kindertransport, 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