Our Fathers Were Slaves in Egypt—and in Serbia

On Passover two years ago, Carol Moskot’s mother handed her an envelope containing five postcards sent by Moskot’s grandfather to his wife. She tells the story behind them:

As my husband begins to recite the story of our enslaved forebears, my thoughts drift to a more recent story of slavery and one person in particular—my maternal grandfather, László Braun.

Almost 80 years ago, in 1943, the Nazis made him a slave when they sent him to the copper mines of Bor, Serbia. He never returned. For Elizabeth, his wife and my grandmother, the trauma of losing her beloved László drove a permanent wedge into her heart. Although I would sometimes see a smile on her Revlonned red lips, it always quickly faded. It pained me that my mother, Agnes, affectionately known as Ágika, had never met her father.

László and Elizabeth married in a Budapest synagogue on March 16, 1942. Not long thereafter, László and other able-bodied Hungarian Jewish men were conscripted into slave-labor battalions, a fate only slightly better than that endured by their brethren elsewhere:

Following France’s defeat in 1941, Europe’s largest copper mine in Bor, Serbia, was transferred from French ownership to the Germans. Nazi civilians operated the mine and used Jewish slave labor. Bor provided 50 percent of the copper requirements for the Reich’s war industry to make cannonballs, cartridges, machine guns, and tanks. The problem was that by 1942, the entire Jewish population of occupied Serbia had fled or been killed, so the Nazis turned to the remaining Jews of Budapest to supply that labor.

László sent the postcards, which Moskot presents in translation, to Elizabeth from Bor. He survived inhuman conditions, a death march, and a massacre, only to die in a second death march.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Holocaust, Hungarian Jewry, Passover, Serbia

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7