'We are the last Auschwitz survivors' | Europe | DW.COM | 26.01.2017
She kept silent for 40 years. Yet, since Judith Rosenzweig learned the Holocaust is being denied with greater regularity, she decided to speak about the ghettos, forced marches and concentration camps she survived.
By Deutsche Welle (

“In my memoirs I wrote: “I was born in paradise, then I was banished, just like Adam and Eve.” I was born in 1930, and I was nine years old when the Germans arrived in the Republic of Czechoslovakia. The occupation started with various decrees - we were not allowed to go to the park or the cinema. Then Jewish children were barred from attending school. We were not allowed to study and I only went to four classes. In late 1941 they began deporting Jewish families to the Theresienstadt ghetto. My family was taken there in March 1942. 


“Trains were leaving all the time. We had no idea what was happening to the people that were taken away. In 1944 they took us: my mother, my father and my sister. My brother was already gone by then. When we arrived in Auschwitz the women were put into one line, the men in another. That was the last time I ever saw my father, standing there among the other men. When you arrived in Auschwitz, the camp physician, Dr. Josef Mengele, decided who was fit to work and who wasn’t. Those who weren’t were sent to the gas chambers immediately. He declared myself, my mother and my sister fit to work. They sent us to a barracks where we had to undress and hand over our clothes. Then they sent us to the showers and gave us very thin clothing. The next day Mengele came in and once again decided who would be sent to work.


"When my sister and I returned home my brother was already there. But the house was empty. I told my brother and sister that I was going to Israel. I didn’t want to stay someplace that I was not welcome. But it took two years before I could go to Israel. Eventually I traveled from Marseille to Jaffa. The date was May 15, 1948 - the first day of the state of Israel.


"It is very important to me [that people remember what happened] because there are always people that say we made it all up. I have been to Germany a couple of times to speak at schools. It is important that our memories aren’t forgotten. My generation is the last of those who survived Auschwitz. It is really difficult to understand what was done to Jews, and why. That should never be allowed to happen again, and one must share that message with the world. You cannot kill people because of their religion.”


Jews of Early Bollywood

1. Azurie was an actress and dancer who was popular in the 1930s and 40s. She was the first dancer to gain popularity in Hindi films. She was born to an Indian mother and German father in Bangalore in 1907. It is believed that her debut film was Nadira (1934), and her last film released in India was Bahana (1942), before she migrated to Pakistan, where she starred in films such as Jhoomar (1959). She died in August 1998 in Pakistan.

2. Sulochana (Ruby Myers) was a silent film actress from the Baghdadi Jewish community of India. She was born in Pune in 1907. At the height of her career, she was the highest paid actress of her time. She worked as a telephone operator before entering the film industry. Some of her popular silent films were Typist Girl (1926), Wildcat of Bombay (1927), and Madhuri (1928). With the coming of sound, she had to take a year off to learn Hindustani (the language of the films) as she was not proficient. She made a comeback with the 1932 talkie version of Madhuri. Sulochana founded her own film production house, RubiPics in the mid-1930s. She received the Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1973 for her lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. By the 1980s, she was a forgotten actress and died on October 10, 1983 in Mumbai.

3. Nadira (Florence Ezekiel Nadira) was born to a Baghdadi Jewish family on December 5, 1932. She rose to fame with the 1952 film Aan, in which she played a Rajput princess. Her most memorable fims are Shree 420 (1955), Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960), Pakeezah (1971), and Julie (1975). She was a well-paid actress and one of the first Indian actresses to own a Rolls Royce. She was active in her career up until 2001, when she played in the movie Zohra Mahal. For the last part of her life, she lived alone in Mumbai, as most of her family moved to Israel. She died on February 9, 2006.

4. Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham) was born in Calcutta to a Baghdadi Jewish family on December 30, 1916. She was the winner of the first Miss India contest in 1947. She peformed stunts in movies such as Ulti Ganga (1942) and Basant (1942). She became the first female film producer and released 16 films under Silver Productions. She also graduated from the University of Cambridge and became a teacher. She died on August 6, 2006 in Mumbai.

5. Pearl Padamsee was born in 1931 to a Jewish mother and Christian father, but she later converted to Christianity. She was the director of an English-language theatre in Mumbai, which was active from the 1950s to 90s, and she hosted after-school theatre workshops for children. She acted in films such as Khatta Meetha (1978), Junoon (1978), and Baaton Baaton Mein (1979). Her last film was in 1998, and she died on April 24, 2000.

6. Joseph David Penkar was a Bene Israel screenwriter, director, and composer. He wrote the script for the first talkie film in India, Alam Ara (1931). He subsequently joined the Imperial Film Company as a writer, and wrote the scripts for films such as Sati Sone (1932), Lal-e-Yaman (1933), and Desh Deepak (1935), all of which he composed the music for. He died in 1942. Little seems to be known about him.

7. David Abraham Cheulkar, popularly known as David, was a Bene Israel actor born in 1909. After graduating college in 1930, he struggled to find a job, and decided to join the film industry. He gained prominence with the 1942 film Naya Sansar and later acted in over 100 films, such as Boot Polish (1954), Gol Maal (1979), and Baaton Baaton Mein (1979). He won several awards, including the Padma Shri Award in 1969. He was closely associated with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), a leftist theatre company that served as the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. He was active in his career up until his death, December 28, 1981.

8. Firoza Begum (Susan Solomon) was a Bene Israel actress. She acted in Hindi and Marathi films in the 1920s and 30s. Some of her popular films are Bewafa Qatil, Prem Veer, and Circus Girl. Little seems to be known about her. (I’m not certain that is her in the picture; it may be the Bangladeshi singer whose name was also Firoza Begum, but this picture was attached to Susan Solomon’s alias in multiple sources.)

9. Ramola Devi (Rachel Cohen) is most known for her role in Khazanchi (1941). She debuted in the 1937 film Calcutta After Midnight. She appeared in many films, such as Qaidi (1941), Khamoshi (1942), and Sawan Aya Re (1949). After the emergence of popular actresses such as Madhubala, Meena Kumari, and Nargis, her career was eclipsed. Her last films were Actor, Jawani Ki Aag and Stage, all released in 1951. Little seems to be known about her.


Baghdad Twist (2007) a film by Iraqi Jewish filmmaker Joe Balass

In this scene, the filmmaker is in conversation with his mother, Valentine Balass, regarding the coping mechanisms they as an Iraqi Jewish family in Baghdad employed when the regional and local political atmosphere was in continuous chaos. In 1963, Abdul Karem Qassem was assassinated and Ahmad Hassan al Bakr replaced him, and in 1967 the Six Day War “al Naksa النكسة” occurred, which Valentine highlighted as the major event that affected the Iraqi Jewish community the most. 

Read more about Baghdad Twist (2007) in our feature here

For all the “Jews Own Hollywood” BS people like to spew around, portrayal of Jews in movies has not been great. If you ask me to list major films with heroic explicitly Jewish characters in prominent roles over the last 20 years I could give you one example. This guy:

David Levinson from Independence Day. Sure you could head canon any Jeff Goldblum role as Jewish until proven otherwise but outside of the Independence Day Films we have a Chanukiah in the background of the Grimm house in the awful Fantastic Four movie from last summer to signify that Ben Grimm is Jewish if you know to look. Kitty Pryde has been given short shrift in the X-Men films. 

Magneto is an anti-villain and the most prominent Jewish character in contemporary cinema. 

There is no shortage of Jewish actors, but when Jewish characters show up in movies they tend to be weak, nerdy, criminals, neurotic and, self-loathing and tend to be leads in comedies as far as mainstream films with major Jewish characters are concerned. Because as far as the movie going world is concerned we’re all nebbishes, schlubs and Holocaust victims.

So J.K. Rowling is doing us a solid here by making two of the lead characters of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Jewish. 

We now have Queenie and Porpentina Goldstein.

I don’t know if the movie will be any good. I heard horrible things about Rowling’s portrayal of magic in North America in that thing I didn’t read. But the fact of the matter is that, for better or worse, this is the first major international blockbuster film to feature heroic Jewish protagonists that aren’t David Levinson in what feels like forever. And there will be three of these movies. 

What will we get from this? We’ll have Jewish and gentile kids buying action figures of Jewish characters, dressing up like them for Halloween, possibly controlling them in Video Games (where Jewish representation is even WORSE than movies), role-playing as them with friends, and even *gasp* admiring them. That matters. 

We’re not getting coded Jews, or head canon Jews or Jewish stand-ins. We are getting genuine Jewish characters at the center of a movie that will be seen by millions of people around the world. 

I wish this weren’t a big deal, but it is. I’d prefer an X-Men film where Kitty Pryde has a major role but given the direction that franchise has gone in that won’t happen any time soon. I would’ve preferred if they were played by Jewish actresses, but they’re not.  They’re what we’ve got. They’re real. And with all the Jews in Hollywood it was a goyische writer who gave them to us..

Jewish Pride Post

The fate of the Jewish people is to be judged by our worst elements,  have our positive contributions either erased or appropriated, and be constantly viewed suspiciously because we’ve had a disproportionate impact on the world relative to our size.

Well, I’m not going to let goyim ignore or appropriate our pride for the likes of Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Jonas Salk, Lise Meitner, Carl Sagan, Primo Levi, Leon Festinger, and all the other Jewish Scientists who transformed the world into a better place. 

I’m not going to let goyim denigrate all the great Jewish contributions to film because they spread the myth that Jews own Hollywood. Throw out all your Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Steven Spielberg, Sidney Lumet, Coen Bros., Mike Nichols, David Cronenberg movies if you want to denigrate the Jewish contributions to cinema, and I’m only listing directors here.

A fan of Star Trek? Both Captain Kirks, both Chekovs and the original Spock were played by Jews. So was Quark on DS9.

A fan of Buffy? Both Buffy and Willow’s actresses are Jewish.  

Music? We’ve had chart topping musicians in every genre from R&B to Folk to Rock to Classic to Rap to Electronica. From modern chart toppers like Drake and P!nk to orchestral innovators like Philip Glass and Gustav Mahler, to Broadway luminaries like Barbara Streisand and Idina Menzel. 

Literature? Jewish authors have been all over reading lists and book clubs from childhood favorites like Maurice Sendak and Judy Blume to Pulitzer Prize winners like Philip Roth, Geraldine Brooks, Michael Chabon, and Norman Mailer.

Comedy? Where do we even start? The Marx Bros? Mel Brooks? Fanny Brice? Bea Arthur?  Eddie Cantor? There world would have a lot less laughter without us. 

So yes. How dare Jews rise to the tops of their fields and make the world a better, more advanced, more livable, more entertaining world.

Goyim, you’re welcome.


Jewish Luck (1925)

Silent Soviet adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s ‘Mendel the Matchmaker’, starring the eminent Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels in his film debut. Mikhoels travelled all over the world as the head of the USSR’s 'Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee’ drumming up support for the Soviet Union in opposition to Hitler. Communism being Communism, of course, Mikhoels’s reward for his efforts was his assassination in Minsk in 1948, when he was beaten to death and then run over to make his death seem like a traffic accident. Intertitles for 'Jewish Luck’ were written by the great Isaac Babel, who after a life of military and literary service to the USSR, was tortured, shot and dumped in a mass grave.