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Workshop:The Holocaust:
How a Professional Reporter Deals With a Hot Topic

Anne Phyllis Pinzow

Anne Phyllis Pinzow is a script writer who makes her main living as a newspaper reporter and editor.  

Here are 4 articles by Anne Phyllis Pinzow that have appeared over time, all focused on one of the hottest topics of our day.  In 2006, controversy still rages world wide over whether the Jews should be allowed to continue to live on Earth -- and if so, should they be allowed to dwell in the Land of Israel.  And what should the borders of that land be? 

Reporters have the mandate to deal in facts, and to report opinions as opinions not facts.  Reporters do not have a mandate to shape public opinion to replicate their own opinions.  Can any human being live up to such a standard?  What do reports look like when the reporter is trying?  Do the following previously published articles live up to that standard?   Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Appeared Thursday, July 28, 1983 - The Journal-News (A Gannett Newspaper)

Children of Holocaust coming to grips with parents' pain
By Anne Pinzow
Staff Writer

"How could we tell our children what the Nazis did to us?" says Arnold Rosenberg, survivor of Wioszczowa ghetto in Poland and Buchenwald death camp, Germany. "How could we hurt them like that?" Rosenberg and his wife are the parents of Anne Rosenberg Katz of Suffern, chairperson of "The Second Generation of Rockland County."

Second Generation is a group composed of children of Holocaust survivors, survivor's children, and other interested individuals. Its stated goal is to understand and help the world understand the effects of the Holocaust.

"I grew up knowing tidbits of information," says Anne, who was born in a displaced persons camp in 1946. "It wasn't until the last few months that I found out some of the things that had happened to them (her parents). I remembered hearing my mother say to me when I wouldn't finish the food on my plate. 'A few years ago we were starving, now eat your food.' I know about their experiences in general but not specifically."

"We were at Skarzysko," explains Helen Rosenberg. "It was not called a death camp. It was a munitions factory. But it was just as bad. They needed to get rid of us as fast as they could so they would work us and starve us so that they could use up more people. When people couldn't work anymore they would shoot them and bury them in mass graves. They also tried to find out how fast disease could kill us. There was a 'hospital' that they stuffed typhus victims into, not to treat them but to see them die."

Arnold and Helen met in the camp at Skarzysko but in 1943 they were separated. He was sent to Buchenwald "where Elsa Koch made lampshades of human skin," she to Leipzig where "our work was carrying stones." Both were later sent to Schlieben, a munitions factory. Helen remembers, "they would stuff us into railroad cars. There was no food, no water, no room to move or to breath. So many people died on those trips. We would be herded on the platform for hours without clothes, it was wintertime. We had to stand straight...not allowed to move. It was a daily routine. We were herded in the same railroad stations which the German citizenry used to travel. They knew what was going on but they didn't notice anymore...they were afraid to do anything about it."

Arnold says, "standing there we would see people die all around us. Just fall down and not get up again. I used to envy the dead people, they didn't have to go through this anymore. When we would be in the camp I would lie on my pallet and think that no one knew what was happening to us, if they did then it would not happen. I used to think that if we ever got out alive, the world would help us. I was wrong."

Near the end of the war was liberation. Helen tells of hers. "In 1945 any of us who were still alive were taken on a death march. the Nazis were running and they were taking us with them. I broke my leg and they left me for dead. Days later I woke up in a Russian hospital."

Both Helen and Arnold were liberated by the Russians. "We were reunited in Poland," says Helen. "I went back to my town, Kaluszyn. I wanted to see if anyone was alive."
"She found out I was alive because her brother was with me," says Arnold. "Of a family of over 100 people I was the only one left alive. We wanted to go to Israel but ended up in Feldifig (a displaced persons camp). Truman had opened up the quota to the Unites States and I was on the quota early.

Anne takes up the tale, "I was so interested in what had happened to my parents, to my roots, that I went searching through ships' arrivals in the Times. We came over here on the Marine Marlin, a US transport ship. We arrived on March 2, 1947. There were 923 passengers, all of them refugees and children."

"We arrived in the New York Harbor on a Sunday," says Arnold. "We had to stay on the ship until Monday but we saw the "Lady" in the harbor. When I saw that I knew for the first time in my life, I was free."

Of starting a different type of life and a family in a new country Helen says, "Some people don't believe it ever happened. I sometimes can't believe it anymore. I don't know how I survived so much starving and beating. Our lives here were not happy lives. We couldn't laugh so much, feel so much and we had to work very hard. We had children and wanted to have children because we had lost everything else."

"My childhood was, I suppose, ordinary but yet a little different," says Anne. "There was not much laughter, though I was protected. I knew I didn't have relatives. My parents didn't talk very much. I had a feeling that there was more going on in the house. I was living with my parents' pain.

"About a year ago, I started to get involved in The Second Generation through a friend of mine who was president of the group in Westchester. I guess I was ready to find out about my parents' trial. I went to The Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in Washington DC and I knew at that point that I was going to form this group in Rockland. I had a sense of being with people who had this feeling, whose thoughts had been aroused. We all had the historical information, now we were going to understand the emotions of what went on. I also read "The Children of the Holocaust" and that stimulated a lot of feeling in me.

"It seems that people are divided into two types. One type wants to devour every bit of information they come across. The other group doesn't want to look at anything about it. I studied everything and started asking specific questions. Maybe it was just that now, as an adult and on my own I was able to deal with what my parents had gone through.

"When she was a child I didn't want to hurt her," says Arnold. "But now I see ho it's important for her to know. It's important now for the world to remember because of the increased anti-Semitism being spread."

Anne continues, "The first meeting of the Rockland group was in June and approximately 60 people attended. We realized what a common band we had. We all needed this. Some of us were eager to question their parents and to preserve information. Our group is planning to do videotapes of oral histories and keep them in the new Holocaust Center when it is completed. We plan to have rap sessions.

"Some people grew up listening to the nightmares of their parents but never told what was going on on the inside. Some felt changed by all of this.

"Many of the members of the group are in helping professions, children of Holocaust survivors are a very sensitive, emotional group and are sensitive to the pain of others.

"Second Generation started two years ago when survivors of the Holocaust gathered in Israel. We were asked to continue the work, to keep the memory of what happened alive." Anne explained that while the memories of what happened are so strong in the survivors, it is with the distance of being one generation removed that the emotions can be faced. "It is our job to explain what all of this meant, why it happened."

The newsletter of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors states the pledge of purpose of The Second Generation. "We solemnly received the Legacy of the survivors at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, we now proclaim to the world our absolute commitment to our parents sacred work of the past...we shall perpetuated the authentic memory of the Holocaust and its six million victims, and we shall ensure that no similar cataclysm will ever again be allowed to befall mankind. Let no one among us ever forget it."

The next meeting of The Second Generation, will be held on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at Congregation Sons of Israel in Suffern on Suffern Place across from the Lafayette Theater on Route 59. Further information about the group is available from Anne Rosenberg Katz at 357-3494.

Any local volunteer or self-help organization that would like to be part of this series should contact Helpine, The Journal-News, 200 Route 303 North, West Nyack, N.Y. 10994


As it appeared in The Rockland Jewish Reporter, a publication of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County

By Anne Phyllis Pinzow
Special to the Jewish Reporter

Word images of fire, death and destruction counter pointed song and remembrances of survival and triumph as poets, musicians, actors, survivors and clergy commemorated a date of infamy.

While memories of September 11 (9/11) were fresh in the audience's mind at the Holocaust Museum and Study Center in Spring Valley the evening of November 8th, these representations were of a different cataclysmic date, November 9, (11/9), 1938, the date of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass.

On that fateful night 63 years ago, government sponsored terrorists ran through German and Austrian cities, towns and villages, burning 267 synagogues, destroying 7,500 businesses, vandalizing Jewish homes and killing 91 Jews. By the next night, about 25,000 Jewish men were arrested and detained in concentration camps.

The event was explained by the press as reprisal for the murder of Ernst Von Rath, a German diplomat in Paris, by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Jew in retaliation for the expulsion of his father and family from their home to the Polish border.

Hermann Göring said if the events, "German Jewry shall, as punishment for their abominable crimes, et cetera, have to make a contribution for one billion marks. That will work. The swine won't commit another murder."

In memory of Kristallnacht, "Seeing Through the Shredded Shards" was coordinated by Moses Weintraub, executive director of the Holocaust Study Center, and developed by Jack DeLuca Gross, a non-Jew in reaction to events in Germany this past May.

Gross said in an interview after the evenings performances, that this past Spring there was a press release to all the media coming from a group of German businessmen, government officials and educators saying "now that after all this time has past, Adolph Hitler could be looked at as a great statesman."

Outraged by this Gross said it was time to give voice to what the artists of the Germany at that time had to say of the Holocaust. "Now is the time for us to have a say for them because they were silenced."

He said that through his own presentation, he hoped to be the voice of poets who had not survived so that they could be heard.

And indeed, several of the selections performed by Janet Amicarellli Ullrich were those written by children who had been interred in the concentration camps.

The poems had been gathered in the book "I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944, Schocken Books; New York 1978.

Weintraub said to the audience of more than 40 people that the lack of anything more than diplomatic and media outrage from the international community, was seen as an endorsement by the Nazis of their final solution for extermination, not only of Jews, but of all people who did not meet the stereotypical Aryan standard.

Ironically, Jeanne Slavin Segel, one of the evening's performers, noted that by the Nazi standard, many of the artists who the Nazis reverenced, were not of that phenotype.
She performed one of her own poems "The Sterotype" inspired by a story told to her by a World War II veteran who claimed it to be true.

In efforts to remove all pictures of Jewish composers from a display, soldiers decided that only the ugliest must be Jewish. And so a representation of a man with a dwarf like head and a large nose was removed. The soldiers did not realize that the picture was of none other than Richard Wagner, whose operatic works were the mainstay of Nazi entertainment.
Some of the people in the audience spoke privately about where they were during November 9, 1938.

Edith Mayer of Ridgewood, NJ, was 15 the night of that other cataclysm. In 1936 she had moved from Holland to stay with relatives in Cologne, there to attend one of the few Jewish religious schools for girls.

On that November 9, 1938, Mayer's cousin, who was 28, came to get her late at night and both saw their synagogue go up in flames.

"Firemen weren't allowed to do anything. They were standing there and just let it burn," she said. "Then they arrested all the Jewish men, including my two older brothers and sent them to Oranienenburg near the city of Berlin." She said they were interned for about a month and had to promise to leave Germany.

Mayer's father came to get her the next day and they went back to Holland where she and other members of her family were interred in Westerbork in Drenthe, all having to wear a yellow star. At the end of the war, most of her family was dead. She was liberated from Theresienstadt in 1945.

Another Holocaust survivor, Bernard Storch of Nyack, fought in a Polish unit of the Russian Army against the Nazis after Germany declared war on Russia. (The two countries started out as allies).

He said that on Kristallnacht, many the shop windows on the Polish border town were he was broken. Storch said he participated in the liberation of many of the work camps. But the horrors of that time were revisited by him and his family when his 32-year-old nephew was killed in the World Trade Center attack.

Also in the audience were people who remembered very little of the halcyon days in the United States during the late 30s.

Milton Meisel of Monsey fought in Patton's 3rd Army and was part of the liberating troops. But in 1938, the then teenager lived at home in Newark, NJ. The events of December 7, 1941 were clear in his memory. But he recalled little if any media attention given to Kristallnacht.
Jean Ullrich of Walwich, NJ lived in New York City who worked for the Navy during World War II, also remembers very little of those early days of the war, long before the United States became involved.

Another member of the audience Nina Gussin of Nanuet said she was a teenager in New York City, but it was not until after the war that the true impact of Nazi activities were understood.
Rabbi Robert Pilavin said that instead of giving a blessing for the conclusion of the event, he spoke of reflections.

He said that in Judaism it is understood that the preparations to do a mitzvah are mitzvahs in themselves building up to the performance of a good deed. However there is also preparation to do evil by doing less evil tasks. Such was Kristallnacht.

"This was the date in human history, the context of the Holocaust, that made bigotry and anti-Semitism fully respectable. It was when those terrible villains tested the waters of public opinion and found out that the outcry was very tepid indeed. They were given a license by the apathy of the world community."

Cantor Yehuda Rossler of the JCC of Spring Valley followed by chanting the Jewish Memorial prayer.

While the performers had taken the audience through the horrors of Kristallnacht and the Holocaust, it was the songs of survival and continuity and prayer arranged and performed by Robbie Wedeen which drew the entire audience into chorus at the end of the evening.  "Shalom Alainu."


As it appeared in the Rockland Jewish Reporter, a publication of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County

'Saintly' Pope taken to task by author at RCC HaShoah Commemoration


Many Jews ask, indeed scream up to G-d demanding an answer to why the Lord let the Holocaust happen. While Jews do not call anyone the representative of G-d on earth, the Catholic Church does - the Pope, who, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia is "the chief pastor of the whole Church, the Vicar of Christ upon earth."

As such, Jews have asked for the past 64 years, why did he, Pope Pius XII, not take a stand against the evil that prevailed in Europe from 1932 to 1945. Why didn't the Pope say "no" to the Nazis?

Susan Zuccotti, author of "Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy" spoke at the Holocaust Museum and Study Center's Yom HaShoah Program on April 27 to more than 150 people at Rockland Community College to address that question.
A professor of History at Barnard College and Columbia University, Zuccotti said that while hundreds of individual priests, nuns and monks risked their lives and internment themselves to hide and save thousands of Jews, the Pope did very little.

"Few today dispute the fact that Pius XII remained reticent in the extreme on the subject of the Holocaust as far as his public declarations are concerned," said Zuccotti, who draws her facts from the 11 volumes of published archives from the War era of the Vatican.
Zuccotti said Pius XII made three public speeches during this period of time.

"Twice in October of 1943," said Zuccotti, a statement was made attributed to the Pope referring to the round up of Jews in Rome only saying that the Pope had compassion for those suffering for their nationality, religion or descent. Then again in December of 1943, another statement attributed to the Pope, protested the Italian police measures against Jews.
But, said Zuccotti, Pius XII never used the word Jews, Holocaust or anti-Semitism nor did he condemn the concentration camps publicly during the war.

He did have his reasons, and had stated them, said Zuccotti. One was that he feared if he made any more overt statements, those few people who claimed mixed Jewish heritage and were not being arrested, would be. Another was his fear for the Church as an institution and the integrity of Vatican City when surrounded by Fascist Italy and then the Nazis after September 8, 1943 during German occupation.

"The Pope had a strong desire to maintain neutrality in the conflict, in order, he hoped to help negotiate a peace," said Zuccotti.

Also, said Zuccotti, the Pope did not want to alienate German Catholics in the face of the oncoming Russian army. The Pope also claimed he was working behind the scenes and didn't want to harm those efforts.

Zuccotti said she undertook her research because she could find no evidence of clandestine efforts by Pius XII.

Zuccotti said that some 4,000 Jews were hidden in Church institutions in Rome and more throughout Italy. Another 4,000 Jews were hidden and supported by Father Marie-Benoit, a French priest who was known in Italy as Padre Benedetto who worked with the Delegation for Assistance to Jewish Emigrants (DELASEM). Several hundred Jews were also hidden in Vatican owned properties including the Vatican itself.

"There is no evidence of a Papal directive for churches and church institutions to open their doors to Jews," said Zuccotti. "There is no evidence of a written directive," or any document referring to such a directive in the Vatican archives which have been published.

However, Zuccotti said the parts of the archive, which have not been published, are much bigger than what has been made available to scholars.

Also, said Zuccotti, there is no oral testimony from any of the church people who helped the Jews that they acted because the Pope told them to.

In fact, though the Pope knew of the coming round up of Jews eminent in September of 1943, he did not warn them nor make any declaration to the Church to help Jews. Zuccotti said that many prelates were hostile and turned Jews away, which they would not have done if there were a declaration. However, there is a published declaration made by Pius XII on September 17, refusing to help the Jews at that time. There is written evidence of Vatican disapproval of hiding Jews, said Zuccotti.

However, DELASEM, which by that time was run by the Catholic Bishops of northern Italy, did continue to help Jews.

In view of the beautification discussions of Pius XII there have been many defendants coming forth of his actions. However, said Zuccotti, they have not produced any actual documents to prove their claims, nor any oral testimony.

Zuccotti said that the defenders quote the New York Times. "The New York Times was not a legitimate source of information and had its own agenda clearly hoping to retain their good relations with the Pope to hopefully get him to break neutrality on the side of the Allies."
Also, there are claims that Vatican Radio made statements that Jews must be helped. However, Zuccotti said there is no existing documentation to support that.

Also, many Jewish and Israeli dignitaries have expressed gratitude to Pope Pius XII yet few of them, said Zuccotti, had any direct evidence upon which to base this. Rather, she said, their expressions were symbolic of what churchmen, as a whole had done, not what the Pope had directed them to do.

In fact, said Zuccotti, Pope Pius XII, did condemn Nazi racism, but he never condemned anti-Semitism either during or after the war and remained silent when more than 350 Jews were murdered in post-war Poland.

"Pope Pius XII was a bureaucrat and a priest and a church leader trying to do the best he knew how to do to defend his institution in times of stress," Zuccotti said. "Pius XII did those things, but in fact he was no hero."

After her speech, Zuccotti said that because of the Italian predisposition towards the Jews, a directive from the Pope would probably not have made much of a difference in that country as far as Italian Catholics helping Jews. However, it might have helped more Jews escape.

Barbara Grau, executive director of the Holocaust Museum and Study Center agreed with Zuccotti, but said that the Pope should have said something. "If the church stands for a moral institution and the Pope is regarded as the moral arbiter, then certainly the office of the Papacy had a moral obligation to do or say something in the face what was obviously the most immoral act. It was certainly being committed by people who were completely anti-G-d and anti-Christian."

Grau said Hitler's purpose was to destroy all religion based on the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. "The Holocaust was committed by professing Christians, brought up in a Christian country and used as justification that very Christianity that called for universal brotherhood. If that is what the Church is, then the Church has deep, deep problems beyond 1933 to 45. That's why the Church has to come to grips with it."



As it appeared in the Rockland Jewish Reporter, a publication of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County

Children survivors of the Holocaust focus of Commemoration


A boy was studying Torah for his Bar Mitzvah before the services while his parents watched with evident pride. Two other families had gathered because of a son's bar and a daughter's bat mitzvah to take place the next morning. All were normal doings for a typical Shabos at Temple Beth El in Spring Valley.

Then the choir came in, dressed in red robes with yellow stars pinned on their chests. In and amongst the singers, the congregation and even the rabbinet were survivors and the children of survivors of the concentration camps.

The special guest that April 25, to commemorate Yom HaShoah, was Rabbi Helga Newmark, who was 10 in 1942 when she was taken to Auschwitz, then Bergen Belsen and Terezin. She was a neighbor of Anne Frank and her family shared the same fate.

 Other children had also survived. Eighty such children had been led by Rabbi Ronald Mass' mother and father-in-law aboard the Theodore Herzel bound for Israel, said Mass to the congregation.

They were turned back, and ended up in a detention camp in Cyprus. Yet there, Mass's father-in-law, who was only a few years older than his charges, taught them Hebrew using nothing more than the sand and a stick to teach them their letters.

"It was the most beautiful time of their lives," related Mass of the feelings his in-laws expressed to him.

Then, staying silent, the diminutive Rabbi Newmark walked among the children of the congregation. Without speaking she instructed one to sit under a table on the bimah. Another she urged to stand next to a wall and place her hand on the Tree of Life depicted there. She indicated to a third to sit on a step.

Taken away from parents, ordered to do inexplicable things by unquestionable authority, denied food and water, but told not to worry, it would be all right. That was the introduction of children to concentration camps, explained Newmark about the exercise.

"American children, thank G-d, have no concept of what it was like for me," to be so hungry as to tie her pants leg in order to hold the potatoes she stole and stuffed down her pants while working in a truck farm.

During her stay there, the Nazis in connection with their biological experiments fed her certain chemicals, which later, it was discovered affected her ovaries.

When the Russians liberated her, at the age of 13, she made her way back to Amsterdam, Holland to discover that her family except for her mother, were dead. It was then that she lost her faith in and belief in G-d.

Her mother told her to forget the past and start living from that point on.

Newmark said that the people of Amsterdam did not want to hear of her pain, her inability to find closure from the death of her father. She spent years searching for the place her father died, hoping that he was still alive.

She said she felt the absence of G-d "When other people were celebrating holidays, with their families, I had nobody. There are still moments when I have my arguments with G-d."

It was years later, after immigrating to the United States, that Newmark was told she had a 50/50 chance to conceive a child. Yet, miraculously, she did conceive, and it was then, during gestation and the healthy birth of her first daughter, that she regained her faith and began her road back.

After studying many faiths for her children's sake "but it was really for my sake," said Newmark, she embraced Reform Judaism. This rocky road continued and eventually, after being turned down twice from seminary, it lead to her ordination in Israel as a rabbi at the age of 57.

But the path continues to be rough. Newmark occasionally experiences flashbacks. One she had written about and told the congregation. She was driving her children to lessons when they had to stop to let a train pass. The experience of being stuffed in like cattle came suddenly upon her. Yet just as suddenly she was back.

Her journey back to G-d has taught her much, said Newmark. "It's an easy way out, to blame G-d," she said. "I think we need to face ourselves, and who we are and what we do, what do we do to help our world become a better world."

But her main concern, said Newmark, is for the children, to question authority, to not be afraid to ask, and to realize that there is evil in the world, but not to listen to it.

-------------------------End of 4 Articles On the Holocaust by Anne Phyllis Pinzow ---------------

See Also:

A Rally of Biblical Proportions by Anne Phyllis Pinzow

Sanctity of The Torah by Anne Phyllis Pinzow

Passover 5765 by Anne Phyllis Pinzow


HOMEWORK: Choose another topic -- not the Holocaust, but one involving equally vital core beliefs and write four short articles about how citizens of your own community deal with that topic. 

Find somone in your neighborhood or where you work who has cause to look at the situation differently than you do and ask them to read printouts of your articles, making marginal notes about inaccuracies or points that should be argued or supported. 

Rewrite your articles as if that person were in fact your editor.  You may post the result in the WorldCrafters' Guild Bulletin Board section and ask writers-l members to comment on it.  Please include a link to this assignment. 

The result will very likely not be publishable in a newspaper -- but at the moment when you are given two hours to produce such an article as part of your paid job, what you have learned will imbue your hasty work with depth and sensitivity. 

Explore the rest of the WorldCrafters Guild School of Professional Writing.  All of is devoted to developing writers and readers who interact freely. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Read the other lessons by Anne Phyllis Pinzow.  Especially her Rules for good reporting.  


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