Category Archives: News

Latest Updates from HSF-USA

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.
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.

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."

David Mermelstein’s Statement to the US Senate

I remember there was a plaque on our in house that said there was insurance, by Generali. My father was a careful businessman, so naturally he would have had insurance to protect his business and his family. Many survivors also remember those plaques, or an agent coming around every two weeks to collect premiums, but most of us 3were too young to know the name of the insurance company. Of course we have no documents for obvious reasons. In 1998, we worked closely with our Florida Insurance Commissioner, Bill Nelson, for a State law to make the companies publish all the names and allow survivors to go to court if they wouldn’t settle. That is when the companies came up with the idea of the ICHEIC commission – because of pressure from the states. Still, everyone told us ICHEIC was voluntary and not binding unless you agreed to a settlement. So, 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.

"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
Panel:
Mr. Baird Webel
Specialist in Financial Economics
Congressional Research Service
Washington , DC
Mr. David Mermelstein
President
Holocaust Survivors of Miami-Dade County, FL
Miami , FL
Ms. Anna B. Rubin
Director
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

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Unpaid Holocaust-Era Insurance

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

On Tuesday, September 17, at 10:00 am, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the subject of unpaid Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.  Further info and a stream of the hearing are available at the Senate Judiciary Committee website. HSF submitted the materials attached in the document below to Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham on Friday, September 13.

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)