INFOTRUE Educational Experiences, by Rick Landman
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International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors
12 Lessons I Learned from the Holocaust


NEWSLETTERS OF THE ASSOCIATION


Newsletter Edited by Rick Landman

JANUARY 1998 NEWSLETTER

First let me wish everyone a Happy Holiday and a Wonderful New Year! I also want to thank everyone who sent me a card, and please permit me to send all of you a card via cyberspace.

If you are going to change your email address, please let me know. Also check out our website from time to time to see what's new. I have been putting magazine articles and movie and book reviews etc. on the site. We have a letter to the Editor in The Advocate this month.

As an idea, I am starting a Photo Album for Children of Survivors from my parents towns. If we want, we too can make family webpages and I can link them to our site. If you are interested, go to the Family Photo Album on the homepage of INFOTRUE.COM and then check up on LANDMAN. It may be a nice way for everyone to write down their family history with pictures. It's just an idea.

Finally, I am writing a bit of controversial news which I am seeing through my eyes. If you have another opinion, or more information please feel free to email me and I'll send it along to everyone in own group.

CAN REFORM JUDAISM RETURN TO ITS GERMAN ROOTS?

This year was the 100th Anniversary of Magnus Hirschfeld's attempt at starting the modern gay rights movements. Most Americans were surprised to hear that Germans were trying to repeal sodomy laws almost 70 years before "Stonewall". But what was started in Germany and killed by Hitler was transported and incubated in America to come back to Germany later on. The same thing seems to be happening with Reform Judaism.

The following was sent to me in May 2000:
just to restate a fact: If you are member of a religious community in Germany as per the government record, you have to pay a tax "Kirchensteuer" - religious tax) of 9 % of your Federal Income tax, not of your income.

If you have an income of 100 000 Euro and pay 40 000 Euro federal income tax, this would be 3600 Euro religious tax - and not 9 000 Euro as stated in your newsletter. If you make 20 000 Euro and pay 3 000 Euro Federal income tax, it would be 270 Euro and not 1 800 Euro.

If you feel you do not want to pay this tax to the community it goes to, you are free to declare that you do not adhere to this community, pay nothing, and make a donation to the community you want to donate to. If it is a recognized (= non-profit) community, this donation is tax-deductable.

Concerning Jews in Germany before the war, many of them before the war were not Orthodox, not wearing traditional clothes or beards. Many of them were not religious at all. Just Hitler made no distinction.

Shalom, Johannes
I could not agree more that Germany should welcome all types of Jewish live, as it is true for other religions. The tax I mentioned (introduced by Hitler ..) was to collect the money for the official churches, following the concordat with the Vatican. The second thought was that by this way, many people would declare to leave the church to save some money - which (leaving the church) was Hitler's intention.

The possibility I mentioned is open to anyone. The fact that you declare your religion to the IRS has no influence on the fact whether or not your religion recognizes you as a member.
Johannes Heidecker,Bondoufle (France), http://www.chez.com/johannes
The newspapers are full of stories over pluralism in Israel and America, but something very important is developing in Germany. Namely, some Jews in today's Germany want to start progressive congregations (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, etc). It is ironic to note that the roots of the Modern Reform Movement started in Germany around 200 years ago, but Hitler killed the German roots of this branch that blossomed in America. When I look at the picture of my grandparents wedding in Augsburg ca. 1918 (it's on the website under Family Album - http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Strasse/5960) I see that the Jews of Augsburg did not dress in Eastern European styled clothes. Only my greatgrandfather (who came from the Galacia) has a beard. They all appear to be modern Jews. I don't know the affiliation of the Augsburger congregation. But the Augsburger Synagogue had an organ (which was removed during the war and was recently replaced with a menorah) and a chorus (even thought the women did sit separately up on the balcony away from the men). But the congregation was definitely not ultra-Orthodox.

After the war, almost all of the German Jews either immigrated to other countries or were killed by the Nazis. Very few of the German Jews returned to Germany. However, a small amount of Eastern European Jews left the liberated concentration camps and displaced persons camp to move to Germany after the war. These Jews became the people in charge of the Jewish Communities in the various towns as well as the caretakers of the Jewish Community's property. These Jews were mostly Orthodox.

In the 1990's two non-Orthodox groups of Jews have also moved into Germany. The first being secular, non-religious Jews from the former Soviet Union and former U.S. Military Jewish personnel who decided to stay when the Army camps closed. Many of the U.S. soldiers were Reform or Conservative.

A National Union of Progressive Jews is now being formed out of members of these two later groups. They have about 2,000 members out of the 70,000 Jews who are living in Germany today. However, the established Jewish presence in most communities is officially still Orthodox. This gets more complicated when one realizes that Germany (and Austria) has a "9% Religious Tax" which goes only to the official religious groups.

All Germans who declare their religion (or who are determined to be Jewish) must give the German government 9% of their income as a tax. The government then turns the money over to the officially elected religious group, which in almost all cases is Orthodox. While the Catholic groups divide their money in each city with the various Catholic Churches, it is doubtful that the Orthodox will give up funds to help the "Progressive" (Reform or Conservative) shuls get started.

Therefore these people must pay 9% of the income to the Orthodox shuls and then try to raise extra money for space, rabbis, Torahs, etc. Not a very easy task to do.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Does the old German Jewish tradition of Reform Judaism mean anything in today's world? Will the newly immigrated Jews have a say in how they want to express their Judaism? Will non-Orthodox congregations return to Germany? Will Jews be able to co-exist with each other in peace? Stay tuned and I'll try to keep people informed of what happens.

Rick Landman


SEPTEMBER 1997 NEWSLETTER

We started out as a small group of New York men, then New York men and women, then we became an American group and finally about 4 years ago we went International. Now I am proud to announce that we are now launched into cyberspace with our own website. We have grown too large for me to print, stuff and mail newsletters to over 100 members in nine countries. I will update our website with new newsletters, articles, and happenings and if you are interested you can visit the website instead of my mailing things to you. I was amazed to see that over 5,000 people have already clicked on to see our webpage without any official announcements of our existence. That means that 5,000 people were interested in searching for the topic of gays/lesbians and the holocaust. But the main reason for this site is for our members to use. So please visit our website… Even if you do not have a computer, you can go to a library, a copy center that offers computers, or even a cyber-café while you dine. Cyberspace is full of Jewish and gay/lesbian sites, so its about time you start surfing the net. Please give me any comments about our site, by just clicking on the comments box and type away. We also need a logo. Do you have any suggestions???

Our site includes such sections as:
  • 1. Newsletters
  • 2. The Goals of our Association
  • 3. Membership forms
  • 4. Information about Magnus Hirschfeld Day
  • 5. Book and Theater Reviews
  • 6. Articles
  • 7. Howard Hurwitz's Hatemail
  • 8. A Guestbook or very slow chatroom for you to leave comments for all to view.
  • 9. Other related website links, including the List of Dormant Swiss Bank Accounts, and other gay or second generation holocaust groups.
  • 10. Special topics like the search for a monument at CBST, NY.
  • 11. Bibliography
  • 12. Most Frequently Asked Questions???


New Policy on Dues
It was more trouble collecting dues than it was worth. So membership is now for free. The only other issue left is whether we should continue to belong to the Association of Holocaust Organizations (annual dues are about $150) or the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organizations (annual dues are about $55). Again, if people feel strongly that our Association should remain members, please let me know with a donation.

GAD BECK VISITS CBST
For this year's Gay/Lesbian Pride Shabbat, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) in New York flew a gay, Jewish Holocaust Survivor over from Berlin to speak, and march in the Pride Parade on June 29th. This was his second time coming to America, but his first time ever going to a gay/lesbian synagogue or marching in such a publicly gay/lesbian event. The Village Voice gave the event a full page of coverage and over 800 people showed up for the Pride Shabbat service.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum now keeps a set of all of our past newsletters on file in its archives. Anyone wanting to study the topic can follow our progress. I will continue to send them one set of a printed version of any new newsletters in the future.

NYC - "Holocaust Museum" sued by 16 Rabbis for including gays. The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Tribute to the Holocaust has been sued for mentioning that homosexuals were persecuted during the Third Reich. Check the website for details.


FEBRUARY 1997 NEWSLETTER

ARE YOU A POLISH-AMERICAN?
I was asked an interesting question about a group called "Polish Lesbians & Gays Together. Namely, would the children of Polish Jewish Holocaust Survivors who live in the New York area want to come to a meeting of their gay/lesbian Polish American group. It raises an interesting thought, since I think we always considered ourselves to be the children of Jewish ancestors who happened to live in Germany or Poland, and not really German-American or Polish-American. But in another way, why should that make a difference if the group is opening its doors to everyone regardless of one's religion. What are your thoughts? Please contact me if your are interested in getting together and if enough people are interested, then we can set up a specific date for a meeting.



REVIEW OF 1996 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM PROGRAM ON HOMOSEXUAL PERSECUTION DURING THE THIRD REICH The lesbian and gay community raised over $1.5 million to aid the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in their program to document and exhibit what happened to the homosexual community during the Third Reich. They held a special opening event in October and invited us to attend.

  • SELF HELP CONFERENCE In October, the Self Help Organization which provides services for holocaust survivors and their families conducted a two day symposium on various topics. They were interested in our group enough to ask for a speaker to discuss what issues concern gay and lesbian children of Holocaust Survivors. I attended and spoke before approximately 50 social workers, psychologists, and other interested persons for a half an hour and answered questions. I believe that it helped them to be more sensitive to some of our issues and gave them a referral place to send clients who may be interested in our group.

  • MEMBERSHIP NEWS Our membership continues to increase each month with new members, but we are losing members who do not give forwarding addresses when they move. Please remember to drop us a note if you move.

  • "THERAPY" SESSION At the request of several members in the New York area, we conducted a one day rap session under the direction of Ken Page, MSW, one of our members to focus on the special aspects of being a gay or lesbian child of Holocaust Survivors.

  • YOM HASHOAH PROGRAM Our Association co-sponsored the Yom Hashoah program at CBST, which included a member of the New York City's (Holocaust) Museum of Jewish Heritage speaking about the programs and status of the future museum. We also heard an update on the various controversies concerning homosexual monuments and museums.

  • KRISTALLNACHT PROGRAM CBST, in conjunction with our Association, conducted their 5th Annual Kristallnacht Program. The Kristallnacht program not only remembered what happened to the Jews on that night, but tried to add an additional scope of study to what happened to the homosexuals during that era. So this year we borrowed the tape of a gay Holocaust Survivor from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to hear the actual testimony from this 17 year old non-Jewish Polish gay boy who's only crime was that he had a romantic crush on a Nazi soldier. He spent the entire war going from one camp to another because of it. In addition to discussing the history of homosexual persecution during the Third Reich, the program focused around the proposition that we should consider choosing one night a year to remember those homosexuals who were persecuted or killed during the Third Reich. The proposal was to have Yom HaShoah (the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising) be the major commemoration event, with a memorial service for all those victims of the Holocaust. Kristallnacht can become a more traditional night of remembering the historical event that started the extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust. And May 6, 1933 will be remembered in Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's honor to study and memorialize the homosexual persecution and murder of that era. That was the night when Hirschfeld's Institute of Sexual Science was trashed and his library and research was burned portrayed in the famous photo of the "Book Burning" bonfire. Dr. Hirschfeld was a leader in the German "Gay Rights Movement" of the turn of the last century who campaigned to have the Sodomy Laws of the Weimar Republic repealed. His institute was a precursor to our current knowledge of the complexities of sexuality. In May of 1997, the Goethe House has offered to present a European exhibit on Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld at CBST, should the Board agree. The "Pink Triangle Exhibit" is currently in the Gay Museum of Berlin. A resolution has been drafted for the Board of Directors to review, which proposes an annual program to learn more about Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, his movement, and what happened to homosexuals during the Third Reich. It is not to equate what happened to the Jews with what happened to the homosexuals, but to honor the memory of those victims who have no one else to remember them, and to learn all of the lessons of the Holocaust. Other dates for this program were discussed such as when Hitler used the crime of homosexuality as an excuse to kill hundreds of his murderous thugs known as the Brownshirts or SA. It was an event which could be pointed to as the turning point where homophobia was escalated into murder similarly to when Kristallnacht escalated anti-Semitism in to mass murder. But the day is too complicated since the victims were killers themselves. A year later to the day, June 28, 1935 was another possible date to remember, since it was when Hitler expanded Paragraph 175 to allow the Nazis to arrest many more homosexuals on the thought crime of being gay or lesbian. But this coincides with Gay Pride Day, and was also rejected.

  • WE ARE NOW INCLUDED IN ASSOCIATION OF HOLOCAUST ORGANIZATIONS' DIRECTORY FOR 1997 For the first time, when you look up all the organizations in the Directory of the Association of Holocaust Organizations you will find our Association. It should also be included in the website at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum under the list of organizations.

  • CBST'S BOARD SEEMS FAVORABLE TO HAVING A MONUMENT IN THE SANCTUARY REMEMBERING THE HOMOSEXUAL PERSECUTION DURING THE THIRD REICH The Board of Directors of CBST seemed favorable to the idea of having a monument and have given us permission to try to find an appropriate piece of art for their final review. However, we need help in getting the word out to the artistic community. The artist will be able to donate the work of art (tax deductible) and have it displayed as part of the interior of the synagogue. It will also join the few other monuments in the world to remember what happened to the homosexual community during the Third Reich. If you can help to push this project, or to erect monuments in other places around the world; contact me.



ANTI-GAY CONTROVERSIES: STATUS ON MONUMENTS...
  • BERLIN: According to a New York Times article, there is a controversy over whether men and women should be equally remembered as victims of homosexual persecution during the Third Reich.

  • BROOKLYN, NEW YORK: Here, the City of New York paid $750,000 for a monument, but insists that only Jewish victims be remembered. We asked for a compromise for the other victims, but to date no movement has occured.
  • DACHAU: Do not know current status.
  • NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE: Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (the author of Hitler's Willing Executioners), wrote in the January 18, 1997 call op-ed section of the New York Times, that there should be no hierarchy among victims of the Holocaust and that there are lessons to be learned from all the monuments and that if the current society erects these monuments, it shows how much we have learned. Copy of the article is attached, and I sent him a letter to ask his help about expanding the focus of the Brooklyn monument. Please forward me info on any others.

    STATUS OF HOLOCAUST MUSEUMS:
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Extremely cooperative in their endeavors to research and exhibit what occurred to the homosexual community during the Third Reich.
  • New York City: Will be opening later this year and we will then see how they handle the issue. To date, they have been supportive of the idea of inclusion.
  • London: The Imperial War Museum will be having a section devoted to the Holocaust. It is up in the air whether any exhibits will be devoted to the treatment of homosexuals. Please forward me info on any others.



    HOW ABOUT STARTING A CALIFORNIA CHAPTER??? We now several members who live in California. Would one of you want to organize the group? Then you can meet or do things in person that you cannot do with newsletters or the internet.



    NEW ANTI-GAY HATE HOLOCAUST REVISIONISTS I am attaching some of the pages of a report that is being circulated by Howard Hurwitz and others under the guise of the International Committee for Holocaust Truth or the Family Defense Council. (Same group... different stationery). This is a group of very active homophobes who politically are against same sex marriages, or any pride or acceptance of anything gay or lesbian. Their latest push is to dispute that the homosexuals were victims of the holocaust and instead want the schools and museums to promote their idea that the homosexuals were the perpetrators of the Holocaust. I have written several letters to the editor and responses to the them and I am also attaching them to the Newsletter.



    JEWISH NAZIS? SHOULD THE SCHOOLS TEACH THAT THE JEWS WERE THE PERPETRATORS OF THE HOLOCAUST? Mr. Hurwitz is using a similar twisted argument against gays According to an article in the Jewish Sentinel (Jan.10-17, 1997) page 10, there were thousands of Nazis of Jewish descent who fought in Hitler's army. Bryan Rigg, who conducted the research states that he has already found documentation of 1,200 soldiers of Jewish descent including two field marshals and that 20 of these men were awarded the Knight's Cross, Germany's highest military decoration. The reason I am relating this piece of trivia, is to show how ridiculous the new anti-gay revisionists' argument can be. Can you imagine asking schools to include in their curriculum that the Jews should not be considered victims of the Holocaust because there were thousands of Jews who participated in the Nazi cause and two of them were even field marshals. Maybe this will dampen Mr. Hurwitz's charge that the gays were the perpetrators of the Holocaust because Ernst Roehm was homosexual.



    NEW BOOKS OR PLAYS I am looking for someone who will write about new books and plays with gay/lesbian Holocaust themes in future newsletters. It can be sort of a book review section to help promote authors who take the time to write about topics related to themes which may not be so marketable to the masses. If we don't push their work, who will?



    MAY 7, 1997 MAY BE MAGNUS HIRSCHFELD DAY at CBST One of the outcome of our Kristallnacht program at CBST was to try to start a trend around the world to honor and commemorate the life of Magnus Hirschfeld and the birth of the modern homosexual movement. {Yes, Virginia there were homosexual activists before Stonewall and Mattachine.} Magnus Hirschfeld along with some of his friends like Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein among others, supported the idea of repealing the sodomy laws in Germany during the Weimar Republic. During Bismark's time the German penal law included the prohibition of sexual penetration for anything other than penal/vaginal intercourse. Hirschfeld managed to get enough votes after several attempts in the Reichstag to almost get the law repealed. But when Hitler came to power, Hirschfeld's Institute of Sexual Sciences was one of the first things to be trashed. The famous picture of the book burnings included much of Hirschfeld's library and the records of his patients and his studies on sexuality. (It is also rumored that many SA members' records were among the records burned in the bonfires.) So as a way of honoring the entire homosexual community and to remember the persecution that they all suffered, I am proposing that all the Gay and Jewish organizations commemorate Magnus Hirschfeld Day in May.



    LETS GET TOGETHER IN AMSTERDAM - AUGUST 1998 The Gay Games (Olympics) will be hosted in August 1998 in Amsterdam. This would be a great time for us to get together. I am asking if some of our European members would want to get together and plan a small social event for all of us who can make the trip. This would also help to get more European gay and lesbian child of HS to find out about our Association and get involved. Any volunteers?



    FINANCIAL STATUS & DUES Attached please find our income and expenses for 1996 and 1997, including the initials of all members and their payments. As you can see, we can use your dues.




ggj
. . . . .
OTHER
WEBPAGES
OF INTEREST
Inclusive Kristallnacht
Homosexuals and the Third Reich 1
Homosexuals and the Nazi Era 2
Jewish Christian Relations in New York
Jewish Christian Relations in New York
Landman Family Stories
Kristallnacht
Torah Returns to Munich
Oettinger Family
. . . . .
Publishing Book
German Tour
#1 Nice Jewish Boy turns German #2 Gay and Proud #3 Lesson of the Holocaust
. . . . .
INFOTRUE Educational Experiences, by Rick Landman
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