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DuBow Digest American Edition april 27,2014


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An American Jewish - German information & opinion newsletter

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DuBow Digest American Edition april 27,2014

  1. 1. 1 AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER AMERICAN EDITION April 27, 2014 IN THIS EDITION GERMANY & THE JEWS – A very important article on the German view. GERMANY & RUSSIA – Tough language by a noted German politician. GERMANY UNIFIED? – On Russia seemingly not. GERMANY: A GIANT SWITZERLAND? – Is that what they want to be? TEACHING THE HOLOCAUST IN GERMANY – An incisive loo. LOOTED ART UPDATE – Is a Lost Art Center the answer? THE CENTURY MARK – A great lady athlete reaches 100. Dear Friends, I hope you all had a great Passover and/or Easter. Enjoying the holiday and following the German media, I found that if it were not for the Ukraine situation there would hardly be anything to write about. How come? Well, Germany is only one country away from Ukraine (it’s on the eastern side of Poland) and the Germany economy is heavily wrapped up in what its relationship with Russia is and will be. It’s heavy on the German mind and maybe its pocketbook The further sanctions Pres. Obama wants to impose on Russia will be toothless without EU involvement (read Germany). Though Chancellor Merkel continues her tough talk about them ( to-putin ) business interests and parts of the populace are far less enthusiastic. Read more below.
  2. 2. 2 You have to have a genuine sense of humor to appreciate an anti-Nazi organization that wears Nazi style uniforms with black/red armbands that sport an apple in the middle instead of a swastika. The Apple Front explains itself at: (,7340,L-4511569,00.html ) Chancellor Merkel is due in Washington this coming week to talk about sanctions and the NSA phone hacking scandal. If she brings her phone along it will give our NSA spooks a chance to recalibrate their listening equipment to hack in on what sort of groceries she’s ordering and who she’s betting on in the World Cup Soccer Tournament Enough! Let’s get on with the news… GERMANY & THE JEWS In trying in my own way to bridge the gap between American Jews and Germans I publish two different newsletters. My American Edition (this one) is mostly for Americans about Germany and the Germany Edition is about the Jewish community (and, of course, Israel) for readers primarily in Germany. Occasionally, I come across an article I believe to be of genuine critical importance and so I include it in both editions. The following is one of them. What follows is copied from the Germany Edition: GERMANY & THE JEWS: A MUST READ As I see it, the prime reason for my publishing a "Germany Edition “of DuBow Digest is to provide some insight into the thinking of Jews in the U.S. and Israel on issues that might have some interest and connection to my readers (mostly) in Germany. I usually add a little commentary to each piece I excerpt in order to help in its understanding and to give you my own thoughts on the covered subject. Knowing full well that most readers will not click on the provided links in order to read the writer's entire article, I try to capture the essence of what the writer has to say in a length that I hope will not be too long. It is not always easy to do that in a very truncated version. However, I try to make each article as concise and to the point as possible. Occasionally I come across a piece that I believe to be so important that it calls for total inclusion. Such a piece is "What Germany Owes the Jews" which appeared in The Times of Israel. In my opinion it captures the thoughts and emotions of many Jews in the U.S. and Israel. I would be very interested in your thoughts which, if you wish, can be sent to me at WHAT GERMANY OWES THE JEWS
  3. 3. 3 This time next year, Israel and Germany will be gearing up to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties — a spectacularly sensitive relationship between the nation whose leadership set about annihilating the Jews and the nation-state whose revival, tragically, came too late to save six million of them. The conventional wisdom is that the Israel-Germany “special relationship” remains both firm and delicate, marked by Germany’s extraordinary commitment to Israel’s well- being, as a consequence of that eternally unpayable historical debt owed by the Germans to the Jews. The reality, however, is that while Germany has proved willing to some extent to bolster Israel’s defense militarily and diplomatically, much of its political and diplomatic leadership is as witheringly and ignorantly critical of Israel as the rest of the willfully blind European consensus. The only real difference is that German politicians and diplomats don’t generally make public their ill-informed critiques and their facile conclusions. In deference to that special relationship, they don’t put themselves openly at odds with the Jewish state. German politicians and diplomats will tell you that they are worried about the bilateral relationship. The policymaking elite is dependably empathetic to Israel, they’ll say. But there’s a deepening and disquieting disconnect with the German public, which increasingly views Israel solely and without nuance as a brutal oppressor, building relentlessly on Palestinian land, insistently maintaining its rule over the poor Palestinians, whose only crime is to seek independence. The fact is, however, that much of the policymaking elite feels pretty much the same, and unforgivably has not taken the trouble to look any deeper. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to commit himself to ending settlement expansion in areas that Israel does not envisage retaining under any conceivable permanent accord is spectacularly wrongheaded for Israel and spectacularly damaging for Israel’s international standing. But the German leadership, of all people, owes it to itself and to Israel to examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the modicum of greater sophistication and seriousness necessary to recognize that Netanyahu’s settlement policies are not the only obstacle, and not even the central one, to Israeli-Palestinian peace. And a modicum of clear-sighted investigation is really all that’s required. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not jump at the offer made by Netanyahu’s predecessor Ehud Olmert in 2008 that would have seen the removal of most settlements and would have met just about all of the Palestinians’ ostensible demands of Israel. He did not so much as negotiate with Netanyahu for the first nine months of the 10-month settlement freeze the prime minister reluctantly approved in November 2009. He demanded the release of vicious, in many cases mass-murdering terror convicts as the first stage of a negotiating process in recent months — not as the final consummating stage of a successful partnership to statehood — and welcomed home these killers as heroes, while channeling international funds to pay salaries to their fellow terrorists still in Israel’s jails. Critically, Abbas has done next to nothing to confront what is actually the core obstacle preventing meaningful Israeli-Palestinian
  4. 4. 4 progress and compromise — the narrative almost universally believed by his public that the Jews do not exist as a people, but only as a religion, and thus have no sovereign legitimacy. These and the other grim realities so complicating peace efforts are obvious to anyone with the will to open their eyes. Recognizing them is central to the goal of improving the lot of Israelis and Palestinians. German policymakers, more than any others on the world stage, because of their particular moral obligation to ensuring the secure future of the Jewish state, have the highest imperative of all to educate themselves and consequently to advance effective policies. And yet, when you scratch the surface and get past the smiles and the formalities, it becomes rapidly clear that the German elites’ thinking on Israel and the Palestinians is stuck entirely on the mantra that Israel must “end the occupation,” with no serious internalization of the complexities on the ground. Those same policymakers are ruefully starting to acknowledge that their lusty embrace of the Arab Spring as harboring the imminent flourishing of democracy throughout the Middle East may have been somewhat premature and exaggerated. But that nascent reassessment has not extended to any remote reflection that perhaps, just perhaps, Israel might not be merely stubborn, obdurate and paranoid in its reluctance to place all its faith in Abbas and the Palestinians. It has not occurred to many key players in Berlin that Israel might actually have cause to fear that extremists would take over territory it relinquishes, that other dangerous forces in the region might rise to more effectively threaten an Israel reduced to the pre-1967 lines (from which it was existentially threatened in its first 20 years of statehood), and that most of the West Bank Palestinians themselves might not be genuinely interested in co-existence. To be sure, the toxic mix of naiveté and condescension at the heart of German policymaking is not limited to inadequate expertise and wishful thinking on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict alone. Many Germans in high places seem to maintain a blinkered faith in and fealty to the UN despite the fact that this organization’s noble goals have long since been subverted, and despite its proven, abiding incapacity to protect innocent lives in conflict zones worldwide, with the 150,000 victims of Bashar Assad’s slaughter only the latest stain. These Germans are similarly misguided, too, as regards the threat posed by Iran. They regard attaining a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program, any deal, as a vital goal, believing that the international community must strengthen the “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif against the regime “hardliners” — determinedly ignoring the fact that Rouhani was handpicked by the supreme hardliner himself, Ali Khamenei, and ignoring Rouhani’s self-acknowledged history of misleading the West for years about the progress of the nuclear program. They think Israel is being unrealistic in demanding that Iran be stripped of any nuclear weapons-building capability, including any enrichment capacity, since they have concluded that Tehran will never surrender to such terms. Israel, in their view, is acting in bad faith, and doesn’t really want to see a deal. (The smarter approach for all those who want to see Iran’s weapons drive thwarted, and that ought emphatically to include
  5. 5. 5 Germany and the rest of a Europe that is gradually coming within Iranian missile range, would be to use every ounce of political and economic leverage to ensure that Iran is forced to agree to precisely the terms demanded by Israel. Seventeen countries around the world smoothly receive fuel for their peaceful nuclear energy programs from legitimate nuclear powers; it does not require dazzling analytical skills to recognize, therefore, that the Iranians insist upon their own enrichment facilities because their goals extend beyond the peaceful use of nuclear technology. BTW, the article was written by David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004). He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin (1996). GERMANY & RUSSIA Last month I ran an article and commented on Chancellor Merkel’s tough stance on Russia’s invasion and taking over of the Crimea. Shortly thereafter, she was joined with more tough language coming from Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Schäuble is a very senior Christian Democrat and when he talks people listen. Christian Reiermann writing in Spiegel On-Line noted, “German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he saw parallels between Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and Adolf Hitler's land grab of Sudetenland. Schäuble said Russia's actions in Ukraine remind him of the expansionism of Nazi Germany. "Hitler already adopted such methods in Sudetenland," Schäuble said at a public event at the Finance Ministry in Berlin on Monday morning. "That's something that we all know from history." Schäuble's comments were directed at the justification provided by the Russians for annexing Crimea. Russian officials claim ethnic Russian residents of the peninsula are threatened by Ukraine. The Nazis argued similarly in the 1938 that "ethnic Germans" in peripheral regions of what was then Czechoslovakia required protection. The finance minister made the comments while speaking to 50 school children from Berlin participating in a government-organized EU Project Day. Schäuble answered children's' questions about European unity and the euro crisis. He made his remarks after a student asked if the Ukraine crisis could potentially intensify the euro zone's problems. Schäuble said the most important thing was to prevent Ukraine from becoming insolvent. He said if the government in Kiev were no longer able to pay its security forces, "then of course some armed bands would seek to take power." That, he warned, could serve as a pretext for a Russian intervention. "The Russians would then say they can't accept that, that they are threatening our Russian population. Now we have to protect them, and that is our reason for invading." Obviously, these are very tough words. Equating Putin and Hitler is about as strong a
  6. 6. 6 denunciation in Germany that any politician can make about almost anybody. It is pretty obvious that Minister Schäuble was putting down a marker not only for his own party and for Germany but for the rest of the EU as well. Keep reading… GERMANY UNIFIED? Not so fast! Not everyone is solid behind the Schäuble and Merkel position. Ralf Neukirch writing in the same Spiegel On-Line opined, “Should the West chart a course of confrontation with Russia following Moscow's annexation of Crimea? Many prominent Germans aren't so sure. Sympathy for Russia is alive and well in the country. Is it acceptable for a person to be sympathetic towards or have an understanding for Russia's actions in Crimea? Are Moscow's claims justifiable? Did the West provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin? For weeks, this debate has dominated the public discussion in Germany like no other. Generally, foreign policy remains a niche topic for experts. Russia has proven to be the exception. Nothing, it seems, is as polarizing as the question of whether Moscow's annexation of Crimea was a justifiable reaction to NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe or if it was acting in violation of international law, thus making any sympathy for the move unacceptable. Those expressing understanding for Russia's move are clearly dominating the Internet forums and talk shows. One former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, even declared that the situation in Ukraine is dangerous "because the West has gotten so terribly worked up about it." The question of whether Putin's actions were legitimate didn't even seem to interest him. "I find it entirely understandable," he said. Another former chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, admitted that he himself hadn't always respected international law. The long line of general forgiveness extends from Philipp Missfelder, the foreign affairs spokesman for the parliamentary group of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, to German feminist intellectual leader Alice Schwarzer, from the left-wing to middle-class households and even deep into the conservative camp. Armin Laschet, who heads Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in the populous state of North Rhine- Westphalia, has even warned against anti-Putin populism. Be they people who simply romanticize Russia, those with a penchant for realpolitik, those nostalgic for the Soviet Union or just armchair leftists, there are so many people seemingly sympathetic to the annexation that many are scratching their heads and asking if Germany is a country of Russia apologists. The soft-heartedness for Russia's iron hand has many origins -- some historic, some current, some idealistic and others material. The most obvious are the interests of business, because companies want to continue trading with Russia and therefore oppose sanctions. Other influencing factors include fears of a new cold or even hot war,
  7. 7. 7 historic ties to Russia and anti-American sentiment that is widespread in Germany. There's also no doubt a romantic idealization in Germany of the land of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And it's not as if Germans are familiar with any Ukrainian writers. In the states that were part of East Germany, one encounters a bond with the former occupying power that at times borders on Stockholm syndrome. Gregor Gysi, the head of the Left Party and former head of the successor party to East Germany's communists which preceded the Left Party, is a strong articulator of this sentiment. He argues that Germany and its allies aren't behaving any differently and that criticism of Russia's actions is hypocritical. The Russians' belief in military answers is "the same thinking that has and continues to predominate in the West -- just think of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya," he says. It is difficult to imagine that SPD éminence grise Klaus von Dohnanyi would question the inviolability of European borders. Dohnanyi is a conservative Social Democrat and enjoys widespread respect among CDU politicians as well. He is the personification of Germany's political center. … he believes that the West must show Russia respect. Dohnanyi's understanding for Russia is one side of his worldview. The other is his criticism of the United States. "The Americans often don't have a sense for diplomacy and for Europe's geopolitical problems," he says. The longer one listens to him, the greater the impression becomes that the Americans are the problem and not the Russians. I excerpted more of this article than I had planned to. However, the question of where Germany stands on the question of Russia and the linked question of its position on the U.S. are of prime importance to world peace and will have dramatic implications for all the players we normally write about in this newsletter. As the picture becomes clearer (if it does) we’ll be reporting on it for you. Stay tuned! GERMANY: A GIANT SWITZERLAND? Once again I am going to include a piece that I had originally put together for my Germany Edition. I thought it important for my German readers to see how an important American journalist viewed Germany in its dealings over the Russian - Ukraine situation. In thinking about it I concluded that it would also be instructive for my American readers read it as well. So, again, what appears below is copied from my Germany Edition. While there is no particular Jewish component to this story, I thought it might be useful for you, my readers in Germany, to see how the New York Times Bureau Chief sees how both the NSA and Ukraine situation as they particularly affect Germany. Since the Times is the most widely read newspaper in the U.S. this article, I am sure, will have a
  8. 8. 8 major impact on the way at least some Americans will view Germany at this time of international crisis. Alison Smale writes, "If there are two qualities prized by modern Germans, they surely are Ruhe (peace and quiet) and Ordnung (order). So the past few months have been profoundly unsettling. First, the United States — the very power that helped Germany to its feet after 1945 and instilled democracy in the ruins of Hitler’s Reich — was found to be a less than transparent ally. The National Security Agency, riding roughshod over concepts of privacy and individual freedom treasured by Germans, had collected huge amounts of electronic data from ordinary citizens and had even spied on the chancellor, Angela Merkel. Even as anti-Americanism surged, however, the Germans faced a second, more profound shock: The crisis over Ukraine proved that Russia, the giant to the east that Germans know so well from centuries of doing business and waging war, was no longer playing by what Berlin considered the established rules of the 21st century. By replacing the currency of modern diplomacy — global cooperation, a wariness about using force, a shared trust and belief in agreements — with the swift, forced annexation of Crimea, Russia threatened the very foundation of Germany’s modern power. As mighty as its economy — the largest in Europe — may be, Germany does not, unlike the United States, Britain and France (or Russia, for that matter), have the military clout of a conventional power. “If push comes to shove,” Ulrich Speck wrote in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Britain and France “could defend themselves. Germany could not.” “Germany needs a world order in which basic principles are respected by all key players,” he added. “The attack on Ukraine is an attack on the very order that underpins Germany’s freedom, security and prosperity.” …hours of more conventional diplomacy in Geneva produced the first agreement between Russia and Ukraine since protesters drove Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, from power in February. Germans’ relief was audible. Finally, said Sabine Rau, a prominent commentator on the country’s most watched state television channel, Mr. Putin was being rational and was ready to talk. The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has traveled and talked ceaselessly since the Ukraine crisis erupted, weighed in from an Easter vacation in northern Italy to caution that the Geneva talks were just “a first step, and many others must now follow.” But, he emphasized, diplomacy at last had a chance. Germany was back on familiar terrain As Mr. Steinmeier acknowledged, if violence in Ukraine did not subside, the pressure on the West to impose much tougher sanctions on Russia would rise.
  9. 9. 9 But behind the scenes, diplomats say, there is a wariness to act, perhaps because of strong German business ties to Russia — but also because of popular ambivalence. While Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer in Dresden, is unpopular here — 65 percent of Germans view him as dangerous, according to a survey conducted this week by the Allensbach Institute — 68 percent view Russia as a world power, up from 38 percent when Russia intervened in Georgia in 2008. Detailed questioning of 1,006 people polled by telephone on March 31 and April 1 showed that those from the former East Germany — but also young, educated Germans in the west — supported negotiation over sanctions, and were inclined to think Germany should steer clear of the whole imbroglio in Ukraine. Nonetheless, the twin shocks from Washington and Moscow to the German political elite are tangible, and will leave a trace. Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, argued in The Financial Times last month that the only people who seemed not to realize that Germany was at the center of the Ukraine crisis were “the Germans themselves.” Subsequent reaction suggested that ruhe and ordnung were perhaps too firmly embedded in German political culture. People want to live, he said, in “a giant Switzerland.” (End of Smale article) The Alison Smale piece certainly casts Germany in a less than positive light. One might say that it shows the Federal Republic as wishing that everyone should act as peaceful adults when the national interests of Russia and the U.S. are seen by their leaders in a different light. To think that Vladimir Putin will be satisfied without going further in Ukraine and that the U.S. is about to give up its perceived need for intelligence is to have one’s head in the sand. Dealing with the U.S. will certainly be easier than with the Russians. Eventually some sort of a deal about intelligence gathering can and will be worked out. Obviously, this problem is not of the same importance as the one the Western world has with Mr. Putin. Things would have to deteriorate dramatically before any sort of a shooting war could begin. The battlefield of today is economics and sanctions. More muscular sanctions than the ones so far proposed would require the EU to participate perhaps causing its members a high degree of pain. I think it’s a legitimate question as to how far Germany would be able to go before all the rationales kick in about Eastern Ukraine really being Russian, etc. Of course; a takeover of Eastern Ukraine by the Russians would not stop them there. So, perhaps it’s time for Germany to start asking itself about how far it would be willing to go on imposing sanctions or would becoming a “Giant Switzerland” be its answer to Russian aggression. Time will tell!
  10. 10. 10 TEACHING THE HOLOCAUST IN GERMANY During my 2 ½ years living and working for AJC in Germany, we hosted many American Jewish individuals and groups. Invariably, the question arose about how the Holocaust was being taught in the schools or even, if it was, indeed, being taught? From what I could gather from my German sources the answer was that every student received some education on the subject and the quality depended on the teacher. However, I was a little unsure about my answer because I myself had no experience in German classrooms. The question has remained with me since that time. Recently, Haaretz published a very informative article focusing on the work of Israeli professor Gideon Greif who has been lecturing to German students for the last 13 years and Aya Zarfati, a 32-year-old Israeli woman. Ms. Zarfati has been living in Germany for the past few years as she studies for her master’s degree. She works as a guide at three sites that are related to the Holocaust and for Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies which has a special desk devoted solely to German-speaking countries — Germany, Austria and Switzerland. At the School Dr. Noa Mkayton, the school’s director, has already taught in-service courses and workshops to 3,500 German-speaking teachers who traveled to Jerusalem to learn new ways of teaching the Holocaust in Germany. Prof. Grief notes, “German teenagers are showing more and more interest in the Holocaust — the opposite of the situation we feared in the past. They are studying the Holocaust above and beyond. Their teachers devote a great deal of time to the subject. They go to Auschwitz on study trips and devote more time to the topic than the curriculum demands,” Aya Zarfati has guided many pupils. “They come with a great deal of knowledge,” she says. “Holocaust studies in Germany are just as thorough as they are in Israel, if not more so. For example, here you will never encounter a German class that does not know about Kristallnacht. Almost every school in Germany where I have worked has a project related to the Holocaust. The topic of the Holocaust appears in almost all areas of study.” “Particularly in Berlin, every fourth pupil comes from a non-German background,” Zarfati says. When one seeks to answer the question of what the Germans learn about the Holocaust in 2014, one must first ask: Who are the Germans? “It changes their perspective on history,” she says, referring to pupils from immigrant families who study the Holocaust. “If you give these pupils the feeling that the place where they come from and their history are also important, they will usually be outstanding in the way they participate in the lectures and the tours, and in the questions they ask.” Dr. Mkayton says, ““In classes where 90 percent of the pupils are the children of immigrants, there is liable to be a feeling of distance from the subject, and not only because the children are four or five generations away from the Holocaust,” she says. “The pupils might say, ‘This is not our story.’ In many cases, that comes from the way the subject is taught in class.”
  11. 11. 11 She has been in schools where the Holocaust is taught as a national story of Germany alone. “They want to convey the message: ‘We are responsible; we have learned our lesson,’ so they teach the Holocaust as German history. But how will Muslim pupils who come from immigrant backgrounds respond to that?” Mkayton asks. In an attempt to make the topic more relevant to all the pupils with no connection to their ethnic origin or age, Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies has developed study kits that offer “a global and transnational look at the Holocaust,” Mkayton says. The curriculum includes lessons about people recognized as Righteous among the Nations who were Muslim or complex and unique figures such as Gad Beck, a Jewish underground fighter and gay man who lived in Berlin. The article written by Ofer Aderet goes into some of the specific questions that arise from students such as “Why did Hitler hate the Jews?” and whether the Nazis raped Jewish women. The question of Jewish cooperation with the Nazis is also dealt with. I believe that there are many and varied attempts to teach the Holocaust in Germany. However, I continue to believe that the quality of the education, as always, is in the hands of the individual teachers. To get a good feel as to how thorough the attempts to reach German students is in this day and age you should read the entire article which you can do by clicking on the attached link. LOOTED ART UPDATE For the last six months or so we have been reporting on the developments surrounding an art treasure trove held by the elderly son of one of Hitler’s appointed art dealers. The question of how many of the artworks had originally been owned by Jews and whether they would be returned to the heirs of the long dead original owners had to be settled. Finally, after much negotiation over the many legal problems restitution presented, a solution has finally been agreed upon. The New York Times reported, “The German government on Monday announced an agreement with Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi-era art dealer that would pave the way for the possible restitution of art wrongfully taken from Jewish owners and held in his private collection for decades. Lawyers for Mr. Gurlitt, representatives of the state of Bavaria, and the German federal government agreed that a government-appointed team of international experts had one year in which to investigate the works seized from Mr. Gurlitt’s Munich apartment in 2012. The deal would take effect when the works, which are being held by Bavarian authorities as part of a criminal investigation, are released. It applies to all art of questionable provenance in Mr. Gurlitt’s collection, which has become known as the
  12. 12. 12 Munich Art Trove. Authorities said Mr. Gurlitt can prove legal ownership of some of the works. Reached after several weeks of negotiations, the agreement bypasses the 30-year statute of limitations that applies to stolen property in Germany, and in doing so, represents willingness by the German government to resolve outstanding claims related to Nazi-looted art works. The resolution comes months after the public first learned of the more than 1,280 works — including those by major artists such as Picasso, Chagall and Gauguin — held by Mr. Gurlitt. They were seized by Augsburg prosecutors as part of a tax evasion investigation. When the German news media broke the story of their existence last November, it triggered outrage around the world. Responding to intense international criticism over how it had handled the art, the German government appointed a task force to investigate their provenance with an aim to return looted works to their rightful owners. But questions lingered over what would happen to the collection once it was released to Mr. Gurlitt, if he is cleared of the tax evasion charges. Legal experts also raised questions over whether the state had been justified in confiscating the collection in the first place Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, has made addressing restitution issues a priority since she came into office at the start of the year. She welcomed the agreement with Mr. Gurlitt, saying it would pave the way for an independent center that is being established to streamline and reinvigorate German efforts to handle restitution claims. “Our experience gained through dealing with the Munich Art Trove will influence the new Lost Art Center,” Ms. Grütters said. Mr. Gurlitt further agreed that images of the works in question could be posted to the government’s database, which includes 458 pictures. Of course, even with the agreement problems remain. Will those evaluating the claims have enough time to gather all the necessary information to make fair and equitable judgments? Will a time extension be necessary? I’m sure other questions and problems will arise as the process moves forward. However, the German Culture Ministry with Minister Grütters at its helm is pushing for the establishment of a Lost Art Center. That will produce more of a result out of this particular incident than one could have otherwise expected. If it comes to pass she deserves a lot of credit. THE CENTURY MARK Reaching the age of 100 is an achievement for anyone. When that person has had to flee her native land because of her religion, and thereby miss the possibility of winning an Olympic medal, the century mark requires current day citizens of that land to take note of that special person on a special day. They did! Writing in Jewish Womens Archive, Gertrud Pfister, reported, “Margarethe “Gretel” Bergmann was born on December 4, 1914 in Laupheim, a small town in upper Swabia
  13. 13. 13 near Württenberg, where her parents’ families had lived since the 1870s, in comfortable circumstances and respected by their neighbors. Judaism played no part in the lives of this German-nationalistically inclined family. With the Nazi ascent to power, Jewish life in Germany underwent a rapid and radical change. In their desire to win the support of the new powers-that-be, sports associations from April 1933 on eagerly implemented the “Aryan laws,” that excluded Jewish men and women from their organizations. This proved a stimulus for Jewish sports organizations, which the Nazis at first tolerated, in part because in the run-up to the Olympic Games they wanted to show the world press and the IOC that Jewish sportsmen and women enjoyed equal opportunities. In 1933 Gretel Bergmann not only had to abandon her desire to study at the German College for Gymnastics in Berlin, but also to forgo her membership in the Ulm Soccer Association when this was “aryanised.” The Bergmanns soon realized that there was no future for Jews in Germany. Edwin Bergmann therefore took advantage of a business trip to London to register his daughter at the London Polytechnic, where she was immediately accepted into the college’s sports teams. In June 1934 she became the British high jump champion with a jump of 1.55 m. In 1934 Gretel Bergmann had to return to Germany to participate in the preparations for the 1936 Olympic Games, since a refusal to do so might have had negative results not only for her family but also for Jewish sport organizations. Gretel Bergmann was the only one among the Jewish athletes who continuously improved her performance. At the Württenberg Championship in 1936 she reached 1.60 m. in the high jump, which was the German record attained by Elfriede Kaun. Since this seemed to have won her entrance into the Olympic Games, she was surprised to learn on July 16 that her performance did not qualify her for nomination to the German team. Only two athletes were nominated for the women’s high jump, Kaun and Dora Ratjen. The national-socialists thus forwent the advantage of a good chance to win a medal only in order not to have to accept a Jew onto their team. With no hope of any future in Germany, Gretel Bergmann decided to emigrate to the United States. Shortly before her departure she happened to meet her fellow athlete, Bruno Lambert, and the two fell in love (Ed. Note: and eventually married). In May 1937 Gretel Bergmann left Germany, determined “never to set foot on German soil again.” Gretel Bergmann remained active in sport until the outbreak of World War II. In 1937 she won the U.S. Championship in high jump and shot put and in 1938 again won the high jump championship. For many years it seemed as if Bergmann and her fate had been forgotten. Only with her entry into the Jewish Hall of Fame at the Wingate Institute in Israel in 1980 was interest in her revived. In Germany she was awarded the Honorary Plaque of the Field and Track Association and honorary membership in the Laupheim Gymnastics and
  14. 14. 14 Sport Club. In 1995 she was entered into the Jewish Hall of Fame in New York and in the same year a Berlin stadium was named for her. Other honors followed. In 1999 Bergmann broke her oath never to visit Germany. Adam Opel AG Deutschland awarded her the distinguished Georg von Opel Prize, which is given to persons who have distinguished themselves in sport and its principles. At the same time, she visited her native town, which renamed its municipal stadium after her. Gretel Bergmann thus succeeded “putting an end to her long battle with anger” It’s a great story. If you would like to “meet” Grete Bergmann and hear a little about her 100th birthday (via a Deutsche Welle video) click on the attached link. ************************************************************************************************* See you again in May. DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted at Both the American and Germany editions are posted at