Yad Vashem honors Austrians who saved Jews during Holocaust

Also, Mel Gibson tp produce miniseries on Holocaust, based on memoirs or Dutch survivor Flory Van Beek.

December 6, 2005 23:35
2 minute read.
yad vashem tourists 298

yad vashem tourists 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Mel Gibson, the actor/producer whose film The Passion of Christ on the life of Jesus was considered in many circles to be flagrantly anti-Semitic, is producing a miniseries on the Holocaust. The New York Times reported that Gibson's company will base the four-hour production on the memoirs of Flory A. Van Beek, a Dutch Jew who survived thanks to her gentile neighbors. Meanwhile, Yad Vashem on Tuesday paid tribute to 85 non-Jewish Austrians who risked their lives to save their Jewish friends and neighbors during the Holocaust. Among those recognized for their courage in defying the Nazis were Hermine Riss, who hid a Jewish woman in her Vienna home between 1942 and 1945, and Danuta and Ewald Kleisinger, who saved the lives of several Jews by giving them sanctuary in their Warsaw home. Riss was honored posthumously with the title Righteous Among the Nations, joining the Kleisingers and 82 other Austrians already recognized. The Kleisingers were additionally given honorary memorial Israeli citizenship, an honor Danuta Kleisinger accepted from Israeli Ambassador Dan Ashbel on behalf of herself and her late husband. Austrian President Heinz Fischer emphasized the significance of the event in a ceremony held at the Vienna Jewish Community building. He linked it to the long process that finally replaced decades of denial with the recognition commonly held today that Austrians shared responsibility for the Holocaust. "We have moved away from a one-sided theory of being victims," he said, alluding to the long-held claim by Austrian officialdom that the country was the first nation to fall to Hitler's Germany through annexation in 1938. Instead, Austrians have "learned to see things more honestly and properly and to arrive at the public acknowledgment that there were victims and aggressors, aggressors and victims under the Austrians," Fischer said. Ashbel, alluding to Monday's suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Netanya, condemned those exploiting "hate (and) anti-Semitism to reach their goal of creating a 'Jew-free' region and maybe even a 'Jew-free' world." The 85 Austrians are among the 20,757 non-Jews recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the foundation.

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