Category Archives: Blog

Written pieces by HSF-USA membership and associates.

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.

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.

Capitol Police defend the US Capitol building from encroachment by violent insurrectionists Wednesday. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Survivors Condemn Capitol Attack, Antisemitic Imagery of Insurrectionists

HSF-USA Statement on Riots at the United States Capitol
January 10, 2021 

As Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors, we are profoundly saddened and angered by the violent attack on the United States Capitol and Congress to prevent our Nation’s sacred peaceful transition of power. It was an insurrection, an effort to overturn the people’s will in the November 3 election. For shame! We abhor the violence that threatens our ability to live together in the diverse, free, and democratic United States that we so deeply love.

It is also painful, in the year 2021, to see so many people brandishing symbols of anti-Semitism and racial bigotry, such as shirts glorifying the Holocaust, a gallows and noose, and the Confederate flag, as they attacked our Democracy. We appreciate President-Elect Biden’s clear denunciation of the anti-democratic riots, and his recognition of their anti-Semitic and racist elements.

 Dangerous anti-Semitic conspiracies once confined to dark corners of the internet are gaining traction in “respectable” quarters, without clear condemnation by all who call themselves leaders. We have previously spoken out about the painful rise of anti-Jewish rhetoric and violence including murders at religious gatherings in Pittsburgh, Poway, Monsey, and in Europe as well.

We, the remaining voices for six million Jews who were murdered because of the “normalization” of these tactics in Nazi Germany and Europe, are speaking out to sound the alarm loud and clear. The poisonous political rhetoric from government leaders and media designed to arouse hateful passions, fan the flames of anger and violence, must be condemned by our leaders at every level, and by all of us in our families, businesses, religious institutions, and communities.

As Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors, we are profoundly saddened and angered by the violent attack on the United States Capitol and Congress to prevent our Nation's sacred peaceful transition of power. It was an insurrection, an effort to overturn the people's will i the Novemmber 3 election. For shame! We abhor the violence that threatens our ability to live together in the diverse, free, and democratic United States that we so deeply love.

HSF Statement on the Passing of Congressman John Lewis

Civil Rights leader John Lewis stood up for his family and all Black Americans to demand desegregation of white supremacist institutions and address systemic injustice through nonviolence and direct action. HSF-USA recognizes the importance of Representative Lewis’s voice, from the Freedom Riders to the House of Representatives, in advancing the cause of freedom, justice, equality and dignity for all people.

Many candles in a vigil, symbolizing the millions of lives that were destroyed by the Nazis.

Holocaust Remembrance Day: We have to help each other

Today is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is occurring in 2020 during the very uncertain and dangerous coronavirus pandemic, with its terrible toll in human lives and suffering. Our hearts go out to all who have lost loved ones.

We are compelled to speak out about continuing injustices and at the same time, reflect on our survival, and the survival of the Jewish people, and share a common message of hope. It is our belief that the only way forward is to help each other, to rely on ourselves.

"With all those promises, I applied to ICHEIC. They said they could not find my father’s name. They sent a check for $1000 as a 'humanitarian payment.' ICHEIC sent out 34,000 of those $1000 checks. Survivors deeply resent the idea of a 'humanitarian payment' instead of the funds we know our parents set aside in case of a disaster. The whole thing was an insult to survivors, and it still is."

Full Senate Judiciary Hearing from September 17, 2019

Senate Committee on the Judiciary
September 17, 2019
Mr. Baird Webel
Specialist in Financial Economics
Congressional Research Service
Washington , DC
Mr. David Mermelstein
Holocaust Survivors of Miami-Dade County, FL
Miami , FL
Ms. Anna B. Rubin
Holocaust Claims Processing Office
New York State Department of Financial Services
New York, NY
Mr. Samuel Dubbin
Counsel to
Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA
Coral Gables , FL
Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat
Former U.S. Ambassador and Special Advisor on Holocaust Issues
United States Department of State
Washington , DC
Samuel J. Dubbin gives testimony before the Senate Judiciary on September 17, 2019.

Attorney Samuel Dubbin’s Testimony to the US Senate

After a decade of incremental home care increases, Members of the Senate Select Committee on Aging cited evidence from its 2014 hearing that “the levels of home care funding by the Claims Conference would meet only 25% of the current needs of impoverished survivors.”

To make matters worse, emergency services funding has not increased at all.

Samuel Dubbin before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
David Schaecter tells the AP: the companies have demanded original paperwork, such as death certificates, that were not available after World War II. The survivors want to take insurance companies to court in the U.S. to recover the money, but it would take an act of Congress to allow it. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“Aging Holocaust survivors try to sue over Nazi-era insurance” AP story

“This is an insult to humanity,” said Schaecter, 90, president of the organization and a survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. “I think they are trying to sweep it under the carpet. The fact is, we are a dying breed. There are so few of us left.”

Read more in the Sun-Sentinel and Associated Press

The survivors want to take insurance companies to court in the U.S. to recover the money, but it would take an act of Congress to allow it. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
HSF-USA members David Schaecter and David Mermelstein gathered at Mo’s Bagels and Deli in Aventura with Curt Anderson and Wilfredo Lee from the AP. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Remembering Mark E. Talisman, an inspiring and tireless champion for survivors

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Mark E. Talisman, Founding Vice Chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council and beloved friend. Mark was appointed to the Council by President Carter and served as Vice Chairman from 1980-1986.

The US Holocaust Museum’s flags being flown at half-staff on Friday in memory of Mark Talisman.

      We share our love and condolences with Mark’s wife, Jill Talisman, daughter Jessica Talisman, granddaughter Colby Herman and grandson Gus Herman, son Rafi and daughter in law Karma Talisman, and grandson Sascha Talisman.

Mark Talisman Statement

Honoring the memory of Mark Talisman

The Times of Israel Obituary for Mark Talisman

Introduction to HSF-USA by David Schaecter

We hope you will follow our updated website for current activities and news about HSF’s work to provide justice and dignity for survivors.    

As we write, half of all Holocaust survivors around the world, including some 40,000 in the United States, live near or below the poverty line, and cannot afford sufficient food, shelter, medicine, health care, home care, dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, psychological counseling, and other services necessary for a dignified old age.

Our major emphasis in recent years has been to educate the public, and community and governmental leaders to highlight the German government’s responsibility to provide sufficient resources to provide for 100% of survivors needs are met so our brothers and sisters live their final years in dignity.  This is a matter of simple justice, and the living survivors among us deserve nothing less than complete medical, emergency, mental health care, and long-term care for the rest of their lives.

In the U.S., the largest populations of survivors are in New York, California, and Florida, and we have been fortunate that several of our elected representatives, such as Senators Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida, Senators Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Representatives John Garamendi, and Brad Sherman in California, and Representatives Elliott Engel and Carolyn Maloney in New York, have taken leadership roles in advocating for survivors’ rights and interests.  Others from states without a large survivor constituency have also been very supportive, such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. As Rep. Ros-Lehtinen wrote in an op-ed in the Hill, “Congress is in a unique position to work on behalf of our constituents to ensure that justice is won and that they receive the proper care and support they need to live out their days in dignity. The time for action is now.”

In 2014, HSF spearheaded the first hearings in the U.S. Congress which documented the scope, causes, and necessary remedies for survivors’ health and income needs.   The hearings documented that survivors’ extreme physical and mental-health challenges were caused by the Nazi German regime’s death camps, slave labor, torture, malnutrition, medical experiments and death marches, which have left their brutal legacy up to this very hour.

These hearings also showed that despite recent funding increases by Germany, the medically mandated treatments such as home healthcare, dental care, mental healthcare, medicine, hearing aids, and other vital services are not being provided, because funding levels are arbitrarily set without regard for the total level of actual needs, and because the current system of arbitrarily limited funding, rationed by the Claims Conference with no accountability, has caused massive suffering among survivors throughout the world.   

In 2016, the U.S. House and Senate passed resolutions urging Germany to provide 100% of the resources for survivors’ needs, and that the funds should be distributed directly to survivors or the service providers without unaccountable intermediaries.  LINK? We urge readers of this site to take this information to heart and join in our efforts to achieve justice and dignity for Holocaust survivors in our lifetimes.

Thank you,

David Schaecter, HSF-USA President