On this day

On this day: Roman Polanski flees

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

When the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected an extradition request from the United States for Polanski last summer, it was just the latest chapter in a story every bit as dramatic and complex as one of the director’s films.

Born Raimund Liebling in Paris, Polanski survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Krakow ghetto, although his mother was killed in Auschwitz.

After the war he worked his way up in the Polish film world, moving to Hollywood in the 1960s and going on to make Oscar-winning classics including Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist.

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On this day: Norman Mailer is born

By Jennifer Lipman, January 31, 2011

In the canon of influential Jewish writers of the last century, Normal Mailer is up there with the likes of Phillip Roth.

The author of The Armies of the Night, The Executioner's Song and The Castle in the Forest, a man who managed to infuriate feminists in almost everything he did, feuded with Gore Vidal and once ran for the job of mayor of New York, Mailer will certainly go down as one of the greats of literary history.

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On this day: A Nazi comparison

By Jennifer Lipman, January 28, 2011

Mary McAleese made headlines round the world – for all the wrong reasons – with comments made just before she attended a Holocaust Memorial day ceremony.

The Irish president, in office since 1997, likened Protestant treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland to the actions of the Nazis in 1930s and 1940s Germany.

She said: "They gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics.

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On this day: The liberation of Auschwitz

By Jennifer Lipman, January 27, 2011

The largest of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz and its sister camp Birkenau have become bywords for the unimaginable horror and evil of the Nazi genocide.

Located in Nazi-occupied Poland, estimates put the total number murdered there at 1.1 million – a tragic majority of the 1.3 million Jews and non-Jews the Nazis deported there and sent through the infamous gates adorned with the phrase "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free).

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On this day: The German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact

By Jennifer Lipman, January 26, 2011

Just a year after Adolf Hitler was chosen as chancellor of Germany, Poland became the first state to form such an alliance with the Nazi administration. Anxious over rising tension between the Nazis and the Soviets, fearful of becoming too reliant on other European powers such as France, Poland’s leaders took a gamble on Germany.

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On this day: the Palestinian elections

By Jennifer Lipman, January 25, 2011

The first Palestinian Legislative Council elections in a decade, the Palestinian elections of 2006 marked a turning point in Middle East politics as Hamas came out triumphant at the polls.

Ruling party Fatah took just 43 of the 132 Palestinian Authority parliamentary seats, while a group viewed around the world as a terrorist organisation took 76.

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On this day: The Wannsee conference

By Jennifer Lipman, January 20, 2011

A peaceful lakeside spot in a sleepy suburb of Berlin, an uninformed visitor to Wannsee might be quite charmed by the place.

But the villa there has a chilling history – it was there, 69 years ago, that 15 Nazi leaders coined the term “Final Solution” and coordinated the genocidal campaign it would involve.

Those gathered at the conference included the man who ran the Gestapo, Reinhard Heydrich, his deputy, Adolph Eichmann and Dr Joseph Bühler, secretary of state for the general government.

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On this day: Klaus Barbie arrested

By Jennifer Lipman, January 19, 2011

Known as the “Butcher of Lyon”, Barbie was the local head of the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France during the Holocaust.

Estimated to be responsible for the murders of 4,000 people, among his many hideous crimes, he tortured members of the French resistance and personally arranged for 44 Jewish children in an orphanage to be sent to Auschwitz.

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On this day: Iraq attacks Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

After the US-lead forces launched Operation Desert Storm, Iraq aimed Scud missiles at the bustling Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The move was not unexpected; when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait the previous summer he did so alongside vocal threats to "burn half of Israel". And after Desert Storm began, an Iraqi radio broadcast recorded Hussein proclaiming: “The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun. The dawn of victory nears as this great showdown begins."

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On this day: A Jewish family on TV

By Jennifer Lipman, January 17, 2011
Since the dawn of television, family life has proved to be a rich source of inspiration. The same can be said for Jewish family life, demonstrated not least by the popularity of the long running US comedy show The Goldbergs.

Created by a writer named Gertrude Berg in 1928, it began life as a radio programme but 20 years later made the transition to the small screen. Following the drama of life in the Bronx and particularly the meddling Jewish mother Molly, played by Gertrude, it later became a play and a Broadway musical.

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