Queens remembers Holocaust victims

Petra Gelbart (l.) and Siv Lie perform a Romani-language song composed in the Auschwitz concentration camp at Queens College's commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Queens College commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day Sunday a little bit differently than everyone else.

For starters, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as the day of memorial for the 11 million victims of the Holocaust. In addition, the college invited speakers to draw attention to the forgotten minorities persecuted under the Third Reich in Germany in an effort to promote a better understanding of the prejudices that led to the various genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries.

“This is not a usual Holocaust recognition most of you are used to,” said Jeff Gottlieb, founder of the college’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was held Sunday due to scheduling difficulties. “We’re focused on fostering inter-group understand­ing.”

Gottlieb reminded the attendees gathered in the student union ballroom of the atrocities committed in the Congo starting in 1996, of those in Darfur at the beginning of this century, of the 1915 massacre of Armenians during World War I and the Rape of Nanking in 1937.

This year, speakers from the LGBT and disabled persons communities and from the Jehovah’s Witnesses shared their histories from the Holocaust and spoke about the importance of remembering these lessons in order to combat the prejudices all minority groups face today.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said he was not taught in high school that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and other deviants were put in concentration camps and forced to wear pink triangles on their clothing.

“It was not until just 10 years ago that the German government apologized to the gay community,” he said, adding that many anti-gay Nazi laws had been on the books until 1994.

Dromm said the real lesson to be learned was not of the dangers of homophobia but of defining marginalized groups as “the other.”

“As a gay activist prior to being elected to the City Council, I’ve always tried to reach out to communities other than my own,” he said, drawing a parallel to the recent rise of Islamophobia.

The councilman said most recently he spoke out against bigotry in reaction to the spray-painting of swastikas on the Jackson Heights Library.

“I didn’t do it because I want to support the Jewish community. I did it because I feel I was protecting myself,” he said.

Jolene Chu is a Jehovah’s Witness and, as conscientious objectors, members of her faith were also forced to don pink triangles under Adolf Hitler’s regime. She said the Nazis went after non-violent protesters because they opposed everything the party stood for: racism, ultra-nationalism and absolute obedience to men.

Chu pointed out that the inscription outside the U.N. headquarters reads, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more.”

“War is learned behavior,” she said. “You’re here today because you agree. Peace, harmony, cooperation and understanding are qualities that can be learned, too.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:14 am, February 16, 2012
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Reader feedback

James Gerald from Brooklyn says:
Did Jolene Chu, who this reporter failed to identify as an attorney who works at WatchTower Society headquarters, bother to mention that the Jehovah's Witnesses attitude toward gays differs little from that of the Nazis? Today, any admitted practicing homosexual is immediately excommunicated from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Excommunicated gays are required to be "shunned" by all of their JW friends and JW family members. Shunning is the religious practice of "treating a person as if they are already dead", and is the modern day equivalent of the ancient practice of STONING to death.

Did Jolene Chu bother to mention that the Jehovah's Witnesses attitude toward Jews differs little from that of the Nazis? The WatchTower Cult preaches its own version of "replacement theology", which teaches that YHWH rejected the Jews as His "chosen people", and replaced the Jewish
people with today's "Jehovah's Witnesses". The WatchTower Cult teaches that modern-day Jews are YHWH's enemies, and that all of the YHWH's promises of restoration for the Jewish people now belong to the followers of the WatchTower Cult.

In fact, the title "Jehovah's Witnesses" was originally applied to the Jewish people by the Prophet Isaiah, and that scripture is even memorialized on the wall inside the front entrance of the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The WatchTower Cult, in calling its own members -- "Jehovah's Witnesses"
-- is attempting to steal that designation away from the Jewish people. This is the very reason that for the past three decades that the WatchTower Cult has had a corporate department dedicated to making certain that every single Holocaust rememberance of any size or type -- newspaper article, book, speech, museum, etc -- anywhere in the world, publicize the fact that the WatchTower Cult's own "Jehovah's Witnesses" were equally persecuted alongside "natural" Jews. This is the WatchTower Cult's way of claiming that "Satan" and his human supporters hate "Jehovah's Witnesses" as much or more than they hate natural Jews --- thus attempting to prevent the Jewish people from laying claim to any spiritual significance that might be interpreted from the Holocaust experience.
Feb. 18, 2012, 10:39 am
Doug from UK says:
"Jehovah's Witnesses attitude toward gays differs little from that of the Nazis?".

I don't think these comments are appropriate.
Feb. 19, 2012, 4:39 am
Mikael from Sweden says:
Agree with u Doug and ... What is 'the Watchtower Cult' !? How offending to J W !! and all that rubbish about J W s and Jews...!!
Feb. 19, 2012, 9:34 pm

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