Jewish

Andrew Donohue

With the setting of the Wednesday sun came Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
And as the darkness brought the day of remembrance, it also carried with it an event that University organizations have been planning for more than a year: a lecture by author, Neo-Nazi infiltrator and son of Holocaust survivors, Yaron Svoray.
As Svoray stood at his wooden podium in the Coffman Union Theater and peered out into the captivated audience, he told a story of his youthful introduction to the Holocaust.
“On my fifth birthday I turned to my father and asked him if I could get numbers tatooed on my arm like everybody else,” Svoray said.
During his lecture, Svoray combined emotion and some humor to convey his personal story of an Israeli Jew turned undercover Nazi.
Disguising himself as Ron Furey, editor in chief of “The Right Way,” a fictional right-wing American magazine, Svoray submerged himself in the underworld of German Neo-Nazism in order to flush out the wave of Neo-Nazism sweeping Europe.
Under his alias, Svoray soon dug himself deeper into the Nazi world. He was soon meeting with some of the most influential Nazis from across the globe, eventually rubbing elbows with underground Nazis who were bankers, school teachers, policemen and mayors of small cities.
Svoray told stories of secret meetings with the five most influential Nazis in Germany, sitting in the room as an Israeli Jew, several times close to being uncovered.
“I went to bed thinking every night was going to be my last,” he said. “I thought I would be found out and end up with a bullet in my head.”
Svoray’s nine-and-a-half-month struggle ended on April 20, 1995, Adolf Hitler’s birthday. He turned in 500 pages of notes and 700 photographs to the U.S. Congress, but nothing was ever done to punish the Neo-Nazis.
“We can’t be silent,” Svoray said. “Or history will repeat itself.”
“We are seriously looking at these issues, the fact that Neo-Nazism still exists and we cannot ignore it,” said Rabbi Sharon Stiefel of the Hillel Jewish Student Center.
Svoray soon turned his story into a book, “In Hitler’s Shadow.” His book then became an HBO movie, “The Infiltrator.”
Shannon Elkins, a senior majoring in history, was drawn to the lecture because she recently finished Svoray’s book.
“It was very interesting,” she said. “But disturbing at times.
Yom HaShoah was proclaimed an official holiday by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on April 12, 1951. The holiday was deemed “the Holocaust and Ghetto Uprising Remembrance Day — a day of perpetual remembrance for the House of Israel.”
“The event has had such a wide spectrum of involvement,” said Stiefel. “The co-sponsorship shows great support for both the University and Jewish communities.”
The lecture was sponsored by Coffman Union’s Forum Committee, Hillel, the Residence Hall Association, the University Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the American Jewish Committee.
Along with Svoray’s presentation, Hillel will commemorate the victims of the Holocaust with its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Program. Observers can take part in a public candle light memorial service at noon today on the steps of Northrop Auditorium. Yom HaShoah ends at sunset.
In addition to poetry reading and songs, Holocaust survivor Jewel Zantzer will share his personal tales of survival.