Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Litvak Connection


Posted By Ann Rabinowitz
During the Delray Beach Florida Film Festival-May 19-24, 2009, a new film was previewed entitled “The Litvak Connection”.  The short documentary was produced by Karen Lynne and Richard Bloom and dealt with the destruction of Litvak Jewry and subsequent attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice.  It is approximately 30-31 minutes in length and can be viewed online for free by clicking here (or scroll to the bottom of this post).  
The documentary is a result of producer Richard Bloom’s research into his family roots in Merkine, Lithuania, and Berditchev and Kiev, Ukraine.  It was during his research that he learned the terrible fates of those who never were able to emigrate to America.  He feels quite emotionally that . . . 
“There can never be enough films, books, and course about the Shoah.  With anti-Semitism rising throughout the globe, with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamic fundamentalist groups vowing to destroy Israel along with the Taliban and Al Qaeda who want the destruction of western civilization, we must all be proactive.  We can not allow history to repeat itself.”

He captures archival interview footage of 
The survivors recount some of their experiences, particularly how their neighbors participated in the killings of Jews.  Their full interviews can be further researched online by clicking here
I was particularly interested in the interviews as I knew Abraham Malnik, who was a regular participant with his wife Lily in the “Litvisher”, the annual winter gathering of Lithuanian Jews in South Florida.
An interview with Eli M. Rosenbaum, Chief of the Office of Special Investigations, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, puts another face on the Litvak connection. He speaks quite candidly about government investigations as well as disappointments in trying to bring Nazi and/or local war criminals to justice at this late date.

An introduction follows to the next level of the Litvak connection, that of Operation Last Chance.  This organization is sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center under the supervision of Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Israeli office.  Working diligently, their efforts to prosecute Nazi war criminals, as of July 11, 2008, are seen below in the nine (9) countries they have initiated activities in so far:

 Statistics – As of July 11, 2008
 

The continued efforts of Operation Last Chance, holds the hope that many more Nazis as well as their local collaborators will be brought to justice.  This includes those who escaped by lying on their visas so they could go to other countries or those who slipped back into their old lives whilst the world just forgot their iniquities.

A complementary philanthropic organization which funds some of the activities of Operation Last Chance is the Targum Shlishi Foundation.  It was created in 1992 by Aryeh and Raquel Rubin in Aventura, FL, and more information on it can be found by clicking here
Discussed by Aryeh Rubin were the possible reasons that American Jews and others did not immediately go after Holocaust perpetrators either during or after the War.  Given that, he now feels that it is the last opportunity to rectify that neglect by participating in Operation Last Chance which he feels very strongly about.
Two genealogists listed as resources for the film were:  Howard Margol, former President of the Litvak SIG and present Board Member, and Steve Lasky, creator of the on-line Museum of Jewish Family History.  Another Litvak resource utilized was the head of the Lithuanian Jewish community, Dr. Simonas Alperavicius
The film provides much in the way of thought-provoking ideas to consider as well as quite a number of links to Jewish organizations involved in the Holocaust and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
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