Remembering a Polish Jew Who Helped Smuggle Hundreds of His Coreligionists Out of Nazi-Occupied France

On October 30, Justus Rosenberg, a Polish-born professor of literature at Bard College in the Hudson Valley, died at the age of one hundred. With Polish schools and universities becoming increasingly unwelcoming to Jews, and imposing ever-more restrictive quotas, Rosenberg left for Paris to pursue his education. He was there in 1939 when World War II broke out. Shira Hanau recounts his remarkable experiences working for Varian Fry, an American journalist who engaged in a major private effort to save intellectuals and artists from Nazi Germany:

When the Nazis took over Paris, Rosenberg fled to Toulouse where he met a woman who recruited him to join Fry’s Emergency Rescue Committee-sponsored rescue effort in Marseille. Rosenberg—who was blonde, appeared younger than his age, and spoke French—worked as a courier for Fry, ferrying forged documents and accompanying some refugees across the border to Spain. The rescue effort saved about 2,000 people, among them the writers Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Mann and the artists Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp.

When Fry’s efforts ended in 1941, Rosenberg, himself a refugee, was on his own again and was soon sent to a prison camp outside Lyon. When he learned that his fate and that of the other prisoners was to be sent to a labor camp in Poland, Rosenberg feigned an illness that would get him sent to a hospital. But even after having his appendix removed due to his nonexistent illness, Rosenberg was still slated to be sent to the camp. Devising a new plan, he sent a message to a group of priests that worked with the Resistance who brought him a bundle of clothing and a bicycle, which Rosenberg used to escape before he had recovered from surgery. After his recovery, Rosenberg joined the French Resistance and later worked as a guide for the American army.

After the war, Rosenberg continued his studies in Paris before immigrating to the United States in 1946. . . . During his years in Cincinnati, he supplemented the meager Jewish education he received as a child by conducting his own study at the Hebrew Union College’s library.

Read more at Jewish Telegraphic Agency

More about: Holocaust, Holocaust rescue, Resistance

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas