This is a newspaper article that appeared in The Palestine Post on September 11, 1942, just a few days before the festival of Rosh Hashanah, featuring messages from a number of Allied leaders to Jews worldwide. The article mentions messages from General Sikorski of Poland, the Greek prime minister, the president of Czechoslovakia, the Yugoslavian prime minister, and the head of the French National Committee.
All of the wishes for the New Year refer to the horrors of the Holocaust and express hopes that the murder and persecution will come to an end. The Greek prime minister, Emmanuel Tsouderos, refers to “World Jewry’s suffering brothers and victims of tyranny” and expresses his hope for “the glad tidings of peace and the end of their tribulations.” The “President of Czechoslovakia in Exile”, Dr. Benes, is quoted as saying that this was:
The Yugoslavian prime minister, Slobodan Jovanovich, declared his government’s sympathy for the suffering of the Jews and extended his wishes that this year would bring “an end to suffering and persecution.” Maurice de Jean of the French National Committee expressed his hope that the words “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” will once again be the common slogan of the nations.
After the Nazi occupation of Europe, many of the governments and leaders of the occupied countries convened in exile, including France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, Luxembourg, Norway, and Yugoslavia. Many of these were located in London from where they led “free” military forces that joined the Allied armies in their fight against the German Army.
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Rosh Hashanah – Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year which takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It is celebrated by blowing the shofar, lighting candles, eating festive meals, and attending services at the synagogue. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy days which end 10 days later with Yom Kippur. The ten-day period is called the Ten Days of Repentance, because it is believed that during this period a person’s deeds are judged and the future year is decided. It is a both a festive holiday and a solemn time of introspection which includes prayer, asking forgiveness from others, and giving tzedakah (charity). The prayers on Rosh Hashanah include asking God for a peaceful, prosperous, and healthy year. Rosh Hashanah also celebrates the creation of the world. People greet each other on Rosh Hashanah by saying: “Shana Tova (Happy New Year).” Food customs for Rosh Hashanah vary among the different communities but often include round challahs (instead of the customary long loaf), apples and honey, and pomegranates. Many people send Shana Tova cards to their friends and family.
Holocaust – The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide and persecution of European Jewry by the German Nazi regime and its collaborators in Europe and North Africa during World War II. The Holocaust was implemented in stages from Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party’s first rise to power. From 1933 anti-Jewish laws were passed in Germany which excluded the Jews from German society. The Nazis also began to create a network of concentration camps where Jews and other “undesirable elements” of society were imprisoned in inhumane conditions. With the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II, which started in 1939, the formal persecution of Jews was implemented in all the occupied countries. Jews were sent to ghettos, made to work in forced labour, and lived in appalling conditions. In 1942 the Nazis held the Wannsee Conference where they decided on the Final Solution which detailed the extermination all the Jews of Europe. Initially, more than one million Jews were exterminated by death squads named Einsatzgruppen, who were assisted by local collaborators. As of 1942 Jews were deported from the ghettos to death camps in Poland, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka, where millions were murdered in gas chambers on arrival. Jews who were not immediately murdered were sent to force labour, and many died as a result of the harsh conditions, starvation, and disease. Jewish resistance was extremely difficult, but attempts to fight the Nazis were made by Jewish partisans and fighters in uprisings such as, most famously, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Sobibor Uprising. In 1944, as it became clear that the Nazis were losing the war, Nazi camp commanders began to close the camps and forced the survivors to march towards Germany. Already sick and weak from the years of violence, more than 250,000 Jews died on these death marches. The Holocaust came to an end with the defeat of the Nazis in May 1945. Six million Jews, two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, were murdered with millions more experiencing tremendous suffering, violence, and loss. In addition to the Jews, millions of Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, disabled people, and Soviet and Polish prisoners of war were also murdered during the Holocaust.