Author Archives: HSF editor

Pissarro_Hanging_In_Cassirer_Home

Supreme Court unanimously sides with Holocaust survivor heirs in multigenerational dispute over looted artwork

Some good news from the Supreme Court.

The high court has ruled, in a unanimous 9-0 decision, to return to a lower court a case involving a priceless artwork that was expropriated from a Jewish family by the Nazis.

A new article in JewishInsider.com describes the Cassirer case as follows,

The question before the Court pertained to legal rules determining whether federal or state “choice-of-law” standards for adjudicating the case should be applied in deciding possession of the artwork, estimated to be worth more than $30 million. These rules determine whether the case would be adjudicated under domestic or Spanish law.

“Supreme Court unanimously sides with Jewish family in Nazi looted art case” by Mark Rod
JewishInsider.com April 26, 2022

Justice Kagan wrote in the unanimous US Supreme Court opinion “A foreign state or instrumentality… is liable just as a private party would be.”

“Everywhere, people, governments, and private institutions have looked the other way to profit from the Nazis’ genocidal thefts from the Jewish people — just like Spain and the Museum in this case. Heaven-willing, today’s Court’s decision will not only result in the Cassirers finally recovering their painting, but bring an end to the lies and obfuscations that have been used to deny justice to untold numbers of other Holocaust survivors and their families.” 

Sam Dubbin, quoted in “Supreme Court unanimously sides with Jewish family in Nazi looted art case” by Mark Rod JewishInsider.com April 26, 2022

High court hears case involving painting stolen by Nazis

“The Nazis murdered more than 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children under the age of 12, and including 105 members of my family.  How on God’s Earth can Spain fight so hard to deny a Jewish family its precious legacy that was looted by the Nazis?” David Schaecter, Holocaust Survivor and HSF-USA President told the LA Times in 2020.

The case is David Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation, 20-1566.

From the Associated Press Story:

The case itself is not directly about ownership of the painting but about how to decide the case, which has been going on since 2005. Lower courts had sided with the museum.

On the other side is San Diego resident David Cassirer. His great-grandmother Lilly Cassirer Neubauer, a German Jew, at one time owned the Pissarro oil painting. The 1897 piece, whose title translates to “Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon, Effect of Rain,” is one of a series of 15 that Pissarro painted of a Paris street as seen from his hotel window.

In 1939, in order to get visas for herself and her husband to leave Germany, Neubauer was forced to surrender the piece to a Nazi art appraiser. She was paid about $360, well below the painting’s value, and the money went into an account she was blocked from accessing.

The painting changed hands a number of times since then but is now in the collection of a Spanish museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid, which has fought to retain it. It has been said to be worth more than $30 million.

Lower courts found the museum to be the lawful owner of the painting while also criticizing Spain for not living up to commitments to return Nazi-looted art.

remembering israel arbeiter

Remembering Izzy Arbeiter

Israel Arbeiter passed away Friday, October 29 2021 on at age 96.   

Mr. Arbeiter’s life and leadership were legendary.  He was a force of nature and inspiration to people of many generations, faiths, and backgrounds.   

Izzy was the President of the Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston for many decades, and was the driving force behind efforts to keep Holocaust memory and education alive in the Boston community. Always a dedicated advocate for survivors, Izzy was also a treasured resource for modern Germany’s and Poland’s efforts to educate their young people about the Holocaust

Israel Arbeiter, a forceful driver of Holocaust memory in Boston, dies at 96 (JTA)

“There is Never Enough Remembering” Remembering Holocaust Survivor Izzy Arbeiter, 96 (Boston Globe)

Izzy was a fierce champion of justice and dignity for Holocaust survivors.   He was a founding director and member of the executive committee of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, joining with survivor leaders from throughout the U.S. in the year 2000 to advocate for survivors’ rights, interests, and needs. 

He testified three times before the United States Congress about his family’s Generali policy that was never honored, and the need legislation to hold insurers accountable.  

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c5010464/user-clip-israel-arbeiter-speaks-holocaust-education

Israel Arbeiter shares his story as a first-person witness and survivor of Nazi atrocities in a Holocaust forum.

Izzy was also a member of the survivor advisory committee of the Boston Jewish Children’s and Family Services.  With that, and his knowledge of survivors’ living conditions, Izzy fearlessly drew attention to horrendous shortfalls in funding for survivors’ medical, dental, mental health, long-term care, and other financial needs, and advocated for full funding for survivors needs.

It never took long in a conversation for Izzy to remind you that the Red Sox, the Celtics, and the Patriots, were better than your team, and he knew every game,  play, injury, coaching decision, or official’s call to support his teams’ superiority.

Most importantly, Izzy was extremely proud of his family, especially his grandchildren, and their growth and maturity, their achievements, and the miracle that his and other survivors’ families were able to flourish after what they experienced.

The Jewish community, the survivor community, and the world have lost another great man.

May God comfort Izzy’s wife Anna, and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Remembering David Mermelstein

We are deeply saddened to share the news that former HSF President David Mermelstein, who survived Auschwitz and devoted much of his life to the service of fellow survivors and Holocaust education programs like March of the Living, passed away at 92 on July 6, 2021.

David always had a smile on  his face and endeared himself to thousands of people he met as a family man, entrepreneur, Holocaust survivor, and community leader.

In addition to his vigorous advocacy for survivors’ rights, interests, and needs as HSF Vice President,  David’s legacy includes decades of personally educating thousands of people of all ages through the schools, community groups, churches and synagogues, the Holocaust Memorial, and the March of the Living, who were mesmerized by his and Irene’s telling of their experiences.

The HSF network recognizes David Mermelstein’s important contributions across decades of advocacy work, Holocaust education and community service. Mr. Mermelstein’s brave efforts as a witness and storyteller will be dearly missed, but his spirit endures in the pursuit of justice and dignity for victims of the Shoah.

David is survived by his wife of 70 years, Irene, daughters Helene and Debbi, son Michael and three grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Remembering Herbert Karliner

We are stricken with sadness on the passing of Herbert Karliner, one of the
last living survivors of Kristallnacht and the SS St. Louis, on the evening of June 1, 2021. Herb was 94.

Herbert Karliner was a beloved member of the Miami community, widely
known and respected for his decades of engagement with community groups, schools, churches, and synagogues, discussing his extraordinary life experiences. He was also a ubiquitous presence as teacher and docent at the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach, helping educate generations of school children and other visitors about the Holocaust.

Remembering Herbie Karliner
Herbert Karliner holds up the Miami Herald coverage of the St Louis refugee ship, which he was on when it was turned away with more than 900 other German Jewish refugees in 1939.
2004-2021 Homecare Funding Gap
Estimated homecare cost funding gap for survivor population in need.

2010
Estimates of survivors worldwide living in poverty or considered poor ranged from 234,000-260,000, based on data from the Claims Conference and the Jewish Federation System, with 55,000 in the United States, 74,000 in Israel, and 90,000 in the Former Soviet Union

2013
The Claims Conference reported 56,000 survivors receiving home care and a total of $182 million from the German government, providing only $3,250 of the $15,600 annual cost for each recipient– or 11 weeks of care.

2017
67,000 survivors received home care; Germany provided $356 million in funding.  Claims Conference Press Release, July 2017.

2018

76,200 survivors received home care; Germany provided $478 million in funding.  Claims Conference Press Release, July 10, 2018.

2019

78,000 survivors received home care; Germany provided $538 million in funding.  Claims Conference Press Release, July 1, 2019.

2020

83,000 survivors received home care; Germany provided $598 million in funding.  Claims Conference Press Release, October 14, 2020.

2021
Claims Conference did not provide precise number of survivors who received home care in 2021, only how many were eligible. Germany provided $582 million in funding.  Claims Conference Press Release, October 14, 2020.

Euro to Dollar Conversions available on Google Spreadsheets

see also About a third of Holocaust survivors in the U.S. live in poverty. This group helps them.” The Washington Post. March 21, 2021.

Shira Stoll - SIAdvance

Survivor Stories We Remember on Yom HaShoah

On this solemn day of Yom HaShoah we encourage everyone to spend some time with the first-person testimony of Holocaust survivors. It is important to hear many survivors’ stories to appreciate the gravity and horror of the Shoah.

Renée Firestone is a distinguished fashion designer and survivor. She began sharing testimony about the devastation her family experienced in the Shoah after a Jewish cemetery and synagogue in her home city of Los Angeles, CA were vandalized with swastikas. Her mother and sister were both murdered at Auschwitz.

Leo Rechter was the founding Secretary of the HSF-USA, and served as the long-time President of the National Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (NAHOS). He passed away in February.

Holocaust survivor Margot Capell, 100 years old, spoke to the Staten Island Advance about her family’s experience under the Nazi Holocaust for their “Stories We Can’t Forget” series. Her parents were killed in a concentration camp in Poland.

Thank you to the community who visits this page for your support and encouragement as we pursue justice and dignity for survivors.

Leo Rechter in Washington City Paper, 2009

Remembering Leo Rechter

Leo Rechter, a widely loved and respected Holocaust survivor leader, passed away in New York on Friday at the age of 93. Leo was the founding Secretary of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA (HSF), and served on its board of directors and executive committee since the group’s founding. Leo also served as the long-time President of the National Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (NAHOS), and publisher of the NAHOS Newsletter, the authoritative voice of grass roots Holocaust survivors in the United States. At its peak, the NAHOS Newsletter had thousands of subscribers among survivors, community leaders, and public officials in 20 states.

“Leo Rechter was a quintessential survivor. He was determined to rebuild the Jewish world, and show the Nazis who remained, and others who stood by silently, that we were going to fill the void with Jewish children, and fully live the values and traditions of the Jewish people. The survivors and the Jewish community have lost a giant.”

David Schaecter, HSF-USA President

Watch Leo Rechter’s survivor testimony with the USC Shoah Foundation.

The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, blanketed in sleet and snow

Our statement about today’s SCOTUS decisions against Holocaust survivors

HSF filed an amicus curiae brief in the case supporting the claimants, but the Court ruled – unanimously – in favor of Germany and Hungary and against the survivors and heirs.

Here is the HSF Statement issued today, which states that the focus must now turn to Congress to set definitive rules about accountability for Nazi looting in U.S. courts. 

Photo Courtesy of Herbert Karliner

What Kristallnacht survivor Herbert Karliner says about Kristallnacht comparisons

Today in the Forward, Herbert Karliner tells Stewart Ain “it is shameful for anyone to compare anything to Kristallnacht.”

“On Kristallnacht, my father, Joseph Karliner, had his store set on fire and destroyed. Within hours, the Gestapo arrived and took him to the Buchenwald concentration camp. It was a time of absolute terror for Jewish people. My father returned a few weeks later, and we thought we were lucky to be escaping Germany on the SS St. Louis. Well, as most people should know, we were turned away from this great country, dooming my father, my mother, my two sisters, and hundreds of others to their deaths in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camps.”

“My brother and I were very, very lucky to survive, and I was privileged to emigrate to the United States. I served in the U.S. Army and raised a family here. I believe in the strength and virtue of the American people to overcome the political differences of today, and pray for President Biden and all of our elected leaders to help heal us. But analogies to Kristallnacht or Nazism reflect a very serious misunderstanding of the vast scope of Nazi Germany’s crimes, and the crimes of its collaborators. They also denigrate the memory of 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.”

Read the rest of the interview with Herbert Karliner, who also serves on the HSF-USA executive committee, today in the Forward.