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August 5, 2010

The Mosque at Ground Zero….

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:26 am

Last night I heard Bill O’Reilly say on his TV show “The Factor” that the proposed mosque near Ground Zero where the 9/11 attack happened could be compared to the Carmelite nuns wanting to BUILD a convent at Auschwitz.  Today, I was watching the news on CNN and I saw a clip of Abe Foxman of the ADL saying that the Carmelite nuns wanted to BUILD a convent at Auschwitz, and I realized where O’Reilly had gotten this information.  The Carmelite nuns didn’t want to BUILD a convent at Auschwitz; they had moved into an existing building at Auschwitz in 1984 and were using it for their convent.

The first mention of the Carmelite convent might have been by Charles Krauthammer who wrote this in the Washington Post:

And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place, it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

The nuns moved  out of the convent they had established at Auschwitz, which was in the Theater building just outside the main camp.  The Jews had objected to the nuns using this building because it had been used to store Zyklon-B poison gas when Auschwitz was a death camp.  It was because of the Jewish protests that the nuns moved, although they only moved a few yards to a location across the street.

Here is the gist of the mosque story, according to this web site:

The ADL, which exists to fight discrimination, especially anti-Semitism, said last week that building the mosque at the site “will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”

At the same time, its backers had “every right to build at this site,” the organization said. “The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong.”

On Wednesday, Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, compared the controversy to the battle over building a convent near the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

“We were opposed to it,” Foxman said of the Carmelite order’s plans in the 1980s. “Many called us bigots, saying we were anti-Catholic, anti-Vatican, anti-Christian. So finally Pope John Paul II stood up and he said, ‘You know what? They’re right.’ And he moved the convent a mile outside of Auschwitz.”

He suggested he would like a similar solution in New York.

I have written on my web site about the controversy regarding the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz here. Contrary to what Abe Foxman says, the present Carmelite convent is across the street from the old one, which is shown in the photos below.

Former Theater building at Auschwitz which was used by Carmelite nuns as a convent, beginning in 1984

Theater building at Auschwitz which the Carmelite nuns moved into in 1984

In 1984,  Carmelite nuns moved into the brick building shown in the two photos above.  This building was being used as a theater, but when Auschwitz became a concentration camp, the building was used to store cans of Zyklon-B, the gas that was used to murder the Jews.  This was a sacred building because it was the storage place for the murder weapon that was used to kill  the Jews at Auschwitz. This was what caused a  controversy that was similar to the current controversy over the mosque at Ground Zero.

The controversy became heated in 1988 when the Carmelite nuns placed a cross near their convent which was just outside the walls of the camp. The convent was only a few feet from the gravel pit where 152 Polish Catholics were executed by the Nazis.

A Catholic cross was erected near the convent in 1988

The nuns were forced to move out in 1993, after protests by American Jews, and they now live in a new convent that was built for them across the road. The nuns didn’t WANT TO BUILD a new convent; they were forced to build it after protests by American Jews.  The Polish Catholics are still angry about this, as I learned from a Polish cab driver when I visited Auschwitz in 2005.

The back side of Block 11 at Auschwitz where a cross was placed in 1988

The cross that was put up by the Carmelite nuns in 1988 is still there, although the nuns are no longer in the old theater building, which you can barely see on the left side of the photo.  Block 11 was the prison building at the Auschwitz main camp. The gravel pit where the Poles were executed is now covered with grass.  The cross is the one that was used by the Pope when he said mass at the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau.

There is also a Carmelite convent at Dachau with an entrance through one of the former guard towers.

Carmelite convent at Dachau is just outside the former concentration camp

A guard tower at Dachau is now the entrance to a Carmelite convent

Carmelite convent is very close to the Jewish memorial at Dachau

Although the Jewish memorial is only 40 yards from the Carmelite convent, the nuns at Dachau have not been forced to move.  The Carmelite convent was built before the Jewish memorial was built.

A typical soldier in America’s Greatest Generation

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:06 am

This morning I read a touching article in The Llano News, an online Texas newspaper; you can read the article here. The article gives today’s Americans an idea of what life was like for the typical American soldier before he went to Germany during World War II.  So many of the things mentioned in the article about the childhood of Norman Livingston are familiar to me because his life before the war was the same as my life.

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