Inherit the Truth: A Memoir of Survival and the Holocaust

Inherit the Truth: A Memoir of Survival and the Holocaust

by Anita Lasker-Wallfisch 

In the years following her liberation from the Nazi death camp, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, like most survivors of the Holocaust, struggled to build a normal life for herself. Decades later, she realized that in her efforts to achieve normality she had not spoken to her children or her grandchildren of her terrifying odyssey. Her memoir of the period between 1939 and 1945, was written for her children so that they would Inherit the Truth.

This is the story of the destruction of a talented Jewish family, and of the survival against all the odds of two young sisters. Anita and her elder sister Renate defied death at the hands of the Gestapo and the SS over a period of two and a half years, being first imprisoned as criminals and then being transferred, separately to Auschwitz, and finally to Belsen. They were saved by their exceptional courage, determination and ingenuity, and by several improbable strokes of good luck — the greatest of which was the fact that Anita played the cello.

Lasker-Wallfisch draws from her own startlingly vivid memories of her experience, and also incorporates the letters her family wrote to one another during this period as well as other primary documents. She succeeds in conveying — in unsentimental prose — what it was to have been a Jew living in Germany at the time of the Third Reich and what it was to have survived.



Hamas wants to destroy Israel, right? But as Mehdi Hasan shows in a new video on blowback, Israeli officials admit they helped start the group.

Link to video:

Video by Mehdi HasanDina Sayedahmed

WHAT DO YOU know about Hamas?

That it’s sworn to destroy Israel? That it’s a terrorist group, proscribed both by the United States and the European Union? That it rules Gaza with an iron fist? That it’s killed hundreds of innocent Israelis with rocketmortar, and suicide attacks?

But did you also know that Hamas — which is an Arabic acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement” — would probably not exist today were it not for the Jewish state? That the Israelis helped turn a bunch of fringe Palestinian Islamists in the late 1970s into one of the world’s most notorious militant groups? That Hamas is blowback?

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. Listen to former Israeli officials such as Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, who was the Israeli military governor in Gaza in the early 1980s. Segev later told a New York Times reporter that he had helped finance the Palestinian Islamist movement as a “counterweight” to the secularists and leftists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah party, led by Yasser Arafat (who himself referred to Hamas as “a creature of Israel.”)

“The Israeli government gave me a budget,” the retired brigadier general confessed, “and the military government gives to the mosques.”

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza for more than two decades, told the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Back in the mid-1980s, Cohen even wrote an official report to his superiors warning them not to play divide-and-rule in the Occupied Territories, by backing Palestinian Islamists against Palestinian secularists. “I … suggest focusing our efforts on finding ways to break up this monster before this reality jumps in our face,” he wrote.

They didn’t listen to him. And Hamas, as I explain in the fifth installment of my short film series for The Intercept on blowback, was the result. To be clear: First, the Israelis helped build up a militant strain of Palestinian political Islam, in the form of Hamas and its Muslim Brotherhood precursors; then, the Israelis switched tack and tried to bombbesiege, and blockade it out of existence.

In the past decade alone, Israel has gone to war with Hamas three times — in 2009, 2012, and 2014 — killing around 2,500 Palestinian civilians in Gaza in the process. Meanwhile, Hamas has killed far more Israeli civilians than any secular Palestinian militant group. This is the human cost of blowback.

“When I look back at the chain of events, I think we made a mistake,” David Hacham, a former Arab affairs expert in the Israeli military who was based in Gaza in the 1980s, later remarked. “But at the time, nobody thought about the possible results.”

They never do, do they?


Mehdi Hasan

Mehdi Hasanmehdi.hasan@​

Dina Sayedahmed

Dina Sayedahmeddina.sayedahmed@​

Congress Urged to Divert Pentagon Dollars After Afghan Withdrawal Towards Social Uplift, Climate Emergency

May 21, 2021 by Common Dreams

“The real security challenges of today—from the climate crisis to global inequality—demand that we cut the Pentagon budget and invest instead in human needs,” said one peace advocate who backed a letter to U.S. lawmakers.

by Brett Wilkins, staff writer


Members of Afghanistan's 777 Special Mission Wing prepare for a helicopter flight during a visit by Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Mohammad Yasin Zia, at their base in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (Photo: Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Members of Afghanistan’s U.S.-trained 777 Special Mission Wing prepare for a helicopter flight during a visit by Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Mohammad Yasin Zia at their base in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (Photo: Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Noting that the United States spends more on its military than the next 11 nations combined, and that tens of billions of dollars will be freed up due to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, 40 advocacy groups led by Public Citizen sent a letter Friday to congressional defense appropriations leaders calling for a lower Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2022.

 “The administration’s proposed budget would provide the Department of Defense with more money than the Departments of State, Justice, Education, Transportation, Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency combined.”
—groups’ letter

“The Biden administration’s recently announced troop withdrawal from Afghanistan offers an opportunity to re-examine the nation’s extremely large commitments to the Pentagon budget,” the letter (pdf) states. “We are dismayed that the administration’s initial budget blueprint to Congress did not reflect a corresponding reduction in war funds, and instead included a gargantuan request of $753 billion for the Pentagon and affiliated spending.”

“We urge the congressional defense appropriations subcommittees to appropriate a lower topline than initially requested by the Biden administration to, at a minimum, reflect cost savings from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan,” it continues. “Estimates indicate that at least $20 billion and perhaps as much as $50 billion will be freed up by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Yet the administration requested a 1.7% increase from the previous fiscal year, adding $13 billion in discretionary spending to an already sky-high figure.”

The letter notes that “the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that the United States spent more on its military last year than the next 11 nations combined, a whopping 39% of global military spending in 2020. If enacted, the administration’s proposed budget would provide the Department of Defense with more money than the Departments of State, Justice, Education, Transportation, Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency combined.”

“The increase alone in Pentagon spending is more than the entire budget for diplomatic programs at the State Department—despite the fact that robust diplomacy in Afghanistan will be needed both during and after the troop withdrawal,” it adds. 

The letter’s signatories asserted that taxpayer dollars would be better spent on priorities including reducing inequality and combatting the climate emergency.

“Reducing the Pentagon budget to reflect the savings from ending the Afghan War is just common sense,” said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. “The Pentagon has no claim on the money that will no longer be spent on that failed war, the taxpayers do.”

“Given the outrageous bloat, waste, mismanagement, and misdirected resources in the Pentagon budget, as well as the long list of underfunded domestic and human needs, the savings from ending the Afghan war—variously estimated at $20-$50 billion a year—should be devoted to nonmilitary priorities to make our nation safer, more secure, and more just,” he added.

Erica Fein, advocacy director at Win Without War, said that President Joe Biden’s decision to “finally withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan after 20 long years of war is a major, welcome step in the right direction. But that alone is not enough. If we’re serious about not just ending our current wars, but ending the endless war mentality that brought us there, we need our budget to reflect that.”

“The real security challenges of today—from the climate crisis to global inequality—demand that we cut the Pentagon budget and invest instead in human needs,” Fein added.

Diana Ohlbaum, legislative director for foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, asserted that “endless wars mean endless Pentagon spending, and vice versa. Now that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is finally coming to a close, Americans deserve to have the savings spent on something that will actually make all of us more secure, such as bold measures to address global pandemics, climate change, and racial injustice.”

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Chesa Boudin recall supporters are fighting. Will it hurt their movement?

District Attorney Chesa Boudin speaks at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

District Attorney Chesa Boudin speaks at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supporters of the push to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin seem to have all reached the same conclusion: The progressive top prosecutor is bad for public safety. But they can’t come to terms on who should lead their movement.

The recall effort has been marked by infighting since a second campaign to unseat Boudin emerged last month from Democrats who were uncomfortable with the initial committee being started by a Republican.

Whether the division will hurt the overall effort, or have any impact on the movement at all, has yet to be seen. But both campaigns already may be facing an uphill battle given the track records of past recall efforts that have not succeeded in San Francisco.

Shortly before a group of Democrats leaning toward the moderate side of the political spectrum launched the second campaign last month, a tech investor who has now become their top donor, took to Twitter to slam the earlier effort that was kicked off by former Republican candidate for mayor Richie Greenberg.

“Do not donate to the Recall Chesa Boudin recall that is out there right now,” wrote Garry Tan, a co-founder of an early stage venture capital fund called Initialized Capital. “It’s run by someone who has no shot (lone wolf Republican in SF, no political org.) — mainly trying to get it done in time for the recall of Gavin Newsom. It’s the wrong move. There’s a better one coming.”

Campaign finance records show Tan, who initially contributed $500 to the Greenberg-led campaign, has since given $10,000 to the second committee run by Mary Jung, the former chair of the local Democratic party and Andrea Shorter, a longtime member of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The split has incensed Greenberg, who calls the second campaign a “waste of attention.” While his campaign has raised nearly $187,000 since it started back in March, he said the fact that the new committee has raised about $20,000 — with half of that coming from Tan — proves the second effort is a “joke.”

“There’s a lot of very strange things coming out of that effort there that are trying to make our effort look bad which does not make sense,” Greenberg said. “Why would they want us to shut down? What would make sense would be if they help us, and if we don’t succeed by (the deadline for signature gathering), then they pick up and do their own effort. Instead they are doing a parallel effort. It’s just so shady.”

But his criticism doesn’t seem to have fazed Shorter, who helped start the second effort to appeal to a broader cross-section of San Franciscans.

“To be honest, I’m not really concerned what Richie Greenberg thinks about our campaign,” Shorter said. “We’re confident about our fundraising. What we are focused on right now is getting our dozens of volunteers on the streets to start our signature gathering effort.”

Internal disputes aside, political consultant Jim Ross said the effort to recall Boudin is already “quixotic at best.”

Previous efforts like the one to recall former Mayor Ed Lee in 2017 have not gathered the signatures needed to make it on the ballot, while the effort to recall then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein in 1983 appeared before voters but failed miserably. That failure also set Feinstein up to sail to victory in her next election.

“Even with a well-organized, well-disciplined campaign it would be really challenging,” Ross said. “But a fractured, dysfunctional effort is just going to make it that much more unlikely that he gets recalled.”

Ross said the division could result in unclear messaging to voters and conflicts over donors. But he would not discount the success of a recall entirely, saying that political movers like Jung and Shorter have previous winning efforts under their belts. “That’s real,” he said. Shorter has run committees in the past with contributions from deep-pocketed donors like Ron Conway — whose money has not turned up here.

Supporters of the effort to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin gather signatures at the Ferry Building Farmers Market. (Courtesy Richie Greenberg/the Committee Supporting the Recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin)

The two recall committees are working on different timelines. The Greenberg-led effort has until Aug. 11 to gather about 51,000 signatures, while the committee from Jung and Shorter has a deadline of Oct. 22.

Greenberg said he believes his effort will be successful.

“People out there, they are not asking who started this,” Greenberg said. “They are not asking who is the committee behind this, what is the political party of anyone, they are just coming here and signing, saying we want this guy out.”

Meanwhile, the recall has given Boudin a chance to begin raising money from his supporters.

The latest campaign finance numbers show his candidate-controlled committee has raised about $268,000, with a recent $100,000 donation from political donor Chris Larsen, the co-founder of the technology firm Ripple.

Larsen previously contributed to a committee benefitting Boudin’s opponent in the 2019 election, Suzy Loftus, and is also a major donor behind controversial surveillance camera networks being set up around San Francisco.

Boudin has backing from a second committee which has raised about $233,000 and has major funding from a criminal justice group called the Real Justice PAC. Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for that committee, said she does not believe the recall campaigns have been effective.

“These recalls started with Republican-initiated efforts to overturn the election,” Edwards said. “They still are.”

As for Boudin, he said he’s staying focused on doing his work at the District Attorney’s Office.

“They are trying to distract us and I’m going to make sure my office stays focused on making San Francisco safe,” Boudin said.

An Excelsior woman was attacked with a knife. The SFPD discouraged her from reporting it.

A couple alleges that police discouraged them providing statements regarding an aggravated assault. The District Attorney, an SFPD representative allegedly told them, was unlikely to pursue it

by JULIAN MARK MAY 22, 2021 (

At around 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, Gigi Tonguet stepped outside of her Excelsior District apartment to wait for a food delivery. After lighting a cigarette, she noticed a man standing across the street. 

It was not the delivery person. 

“I instantly got chills,” said Tonguet, 33. “Instead of continuing walking, he just stared at me and arched his back and started slowly walking towards me.” 

The man was wearing some kind of white hooded robe, she recalled, and he carried a sharp, metallic object in his hand. As Tonguet moved to go back inside, she said, the man charged at her, yelling: “Where do you think you’re going?” 

The woman ran inside as fast as she could and just barely slammed the door shut. The man attempted to push it open, and Tonguet saw him use the sharp object to stab at the glass. “I thought he was going to break the glass,” she said. 

Tonguet tried to run up the stairs to her apartment, but her legs “felt like noodles,” and she fell down the stairs, bruising her arms and bumping her head, causing what she described as a concussion. When she gathered herself and finally reached her apartment moments later, she called 911. 

“I was reacting and realizing that he could have killed me,” she said.

Police tracked down the man minutes later. After a standoff, he was apprehended. Shortly after the incident, a 911 dispatcher told Tonguet what had happened and that the man was in police custody, she said. Tonguet said she wanted to give a statement to police, and the dispatcher said she’d receive a call. 

A call never came. And to the surprise of Tonguet and her partner, Julian Ostrow, police discouraged them from reporting the crime, the couple alleges. 

That Thursday, after learning through regularly updated crime data that the man was in custody on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, Ostrow called the Ingleside Police Station. He was told the officer to whom he needed to speak would not be available to take a statement until the weekend — well past when the man would be released from his “5150” psychiatric hold. After hanging up the phone, Ostrow was unsettled, so he called back. 

Another police representative answered and repeated that the couple needed to wait until the weekend to provide a statement. But the representative said something else that gave Ostrow pause: “They expressed that because it was a ‘5150,’ the DA was unlikely to pursue it whether we made a statement or not, even with the additional details.” 

“So we can come give a statement if we want,” Ostrow said of his impression of the conversation, “but it’s not really going to make a difference and nothing’s going to happen with it.” 

Ostrow felt the message was implicitly political  — a shot at District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive prosecutor facing two recall campaigns which dubiously argue that crime is on the rise in San Francisco and Boudin is responsible for it. 

The account provided by Tonguet and Ostrow comports to what the District Attorney’s office has been alleging for months: That San Francisco Police officers are declining to investigate crimes and stating it’s because the DA will not prosecute them. 

“We hear reports about this all the time,” Boudin said during a December 2020 public Zoom conversation with Chief Bill Scott. The reports include “cases involving serious crimes like residential burglaries, where officers are unable or unwilling to collect fingerprints or video because of this false assertion.” 

In response, the chief said during the December conversation that he knew of those reports and said, “we don’t condone that.” The chief noted, however, that there is a very real “frustration” among SFPD officers who see certain suspects taken to jail and released in a repeating cycle. 

“But there is a professional and a right way to handle that,” the chief said. 

That was in December. But now, in May, Ostrow and Tonguet say they’ve experienced the issue first-hand — and the consequences are real. 

Tonguet and Ostrow got a hold of a police investigator during the weekend, but were discouraged from giving statements and told the report could not be amended, the couple said. Only when they pushed harder did another police lieutenant allow the couple to submit their accounts of the alleged crime. They received a follow-up from another investigator the following Tuesday, informing them that police are now pursuing the case.

The knife-wielding suspect, however, had been released, and police could not track him down because he had provided a fake name when he was first apprehended, Ostrow said he was told. And when police sent an officer to retrieve video evidence of the attack, the footage had already been erased by the system, Ostrow said. Ostrow was only able to capture some of the footage with his cell phone before it was erased. 

“It’s pretty clear what we experienced is because of a lack of follow up on [the police’s] part — because of their discouragement to take our statement while they still had the suspect in custody,” Ostrow said. “He was released, we don’t know his identity, and crucial evidence is lost.” 

In an emailed statement, Officer Adam Lobsinger, a police spokesman, largely corroborated the accounts Tonguet and Ostrow gave regarding the night of the attack — that police apprehended the man on the night of May 11, held him for a psychiatric evaluation, and did not take the couple’s statements until May 16. 

He acknowledged that police records show a 911 dispatcher contacting Tonguet at around 9 p.m. on May 11 following her initial call to police. “It appears that officers did not make contact with that reporting party in the course of the incident,” Lobsinger wrote. “The commanding officer of Ingleside Station is reviewing this matter.”   

“The Department is also working with our partners at the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in an effort to improve service to our community,” he added. 

Lobsinger also described how the man was apprehended — and why police sent him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. At around 8:45 p.m. on May 11, police responded to reports of a man with a knife suffering from a mental health crisis. He was in the street yelling with a knife in his hand.

As officers tried to detain the man, he fled, throwing off all of his clothing — presumably the white robe Tonguet saw him wearing. The man stopped again and “then advanced on the officers.” Police shot him twice with a less-lethal firearm. He fell to the ground, but clung to his knife and began cutting himself. (Ostrow said police informed him that the man cut off his “finger or thumb.”) 

All told, it was a 30-minute standoff, Lobsinger said, in which police successfully used de-escalation and time-and-distance techniques to take the man into custody without badly injuring him. 

“The SFPD is committed to investigating all reported crimes and incidents,” Lobstinger said, adding: “Every case is different and there is no prescribed timeline to conduct follow up interviews with victims and witnesses.” 

Rachel Marshall, a DA spokeswoman, was frustrated by the situation. 

“We are deeply troubled by reports of officers falsely claiming we have a policy of not prosecuting certain kinds of cases,” she said, adding that the DA has no policy preventing the prosecution of someone held for psychiatric evaluation. 

Police frequently present the DA cases in which a suspect had been “5150ed upon arrest,” meaning arrested for a crime while also being held for psychiatric evaluation. 

Marshall made herself clear: “We cannot prosecute a case when the police fail to properly investigate it, collect evidence, and/or fail to make an arrest at all.”   


Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times. More by Julian Mark

(Contributed by Alvin Lee)

Ralph Nader writes a letter pressing Congress for comprehensive hearings on public banking

May 20, 2021 (

Author and consumer advocate Ralph Nader recently sent PBI a copy of a letter he’d penned to Representative Maxine Waters and Senator Sherrod Brown requesting that the committees they chair — the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, respectively — launch comprehensive hearings on public banking. In the letter, Nader describes the value these hearings would bring and recommends PBI Chair Ellen Brown be among those to give testimony. 

Nader writes:“The giant Wall Street banks have been operating in an undeserved paradise – huge, huge profits, a near-zero interest rate-driven Federal Reserve against 150 million savers, quantitative easing and implied Washington bailout guarantee if the big boys get too greedy and start another collapse of the economy. Plus, off-the-wall executive compensation accorded by powerless shareholders keeps getting worse even during the Covid-19 pandemic. With all this, these banks are not performing their investment duty for our economy and have been shifting increasingly into speculative activity on their own behalf. 

Necessary public investments await public infrastructure banks.

“Very often, when movements are bubbling up back home, it takes Congressional visibility and education to move to the next stage.”

[read the letter]


TEDx Talks A chance encounter with members of the Ku Klux Klan led black musician Daryl Davis on a quest to determine the source of the hate. His unorthodox, yet simple approach, has wielded surprising results and just might be the solution for all racial discourse. Daryl Davis graduated from Howard University with a degree in Jazz. As a pianist, vocalist, and guitarist, he performs nationally and internationally with The Daryl Davis Band. He has also worked with such notables as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley’s Jordanaires, The Legendary Blues Band, and many others. In 1983, A chance occurrence after one of his performances led him to befriend a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This eventually led Daryl to become the first black author to travel the country interviewing KKK leaders and members, all detailed in his book, Klan-Destine Relationships. Today, Daryl owns numerous Klan robes and hoods, given to him by active members who became his friends and renounced the organization. Since his journey began, Davis has joined an all-white country band, attended KKK rallies, and accepted a “certificate of friendship” from the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK. He’s even the godfather of former Klan Imperial Wizard Roger Kelly’s granddaughter. Davis has received the Elliott-Black and MLK awards as well as numerous other local and national awards for his work in race relations, and is often sought by media outlets as a consultant on the KKK and race relations. He is also an actor with stage and screen credits, appearing in the critically acclaimed HBO police drama, The Wire, and most recently, as the subject of the documentary Accidental Courtesy, which filmed his real life encounters with Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi leaders as he helps to dismantle racism across the United States Davis has received the Elliott-Black and MLK awards as well as numerous other local and national awards for his work in race relations, and is often sought by media outlets as a consultant on the KKK and race relations. He is also an actor with stage and screen credits, appearing in the critically acclaimed HBO police drama, The Wire, and most recently, as the subject of the documentary Accidental Courtesy, which filmed his real life encounters with Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi leaders as he helps to dismantle racism across the United States. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think

Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think

by Andy Norman 

Astonishingly irrational ideas are spreading. Covid denial persists in the face of overwhelming evidence. Anti-vaxxers compromise public health. Conspiracy thinking hijacks minds and incites mob violence. Toxic partisanship is cleaving nations, and climate denial has pushed our planet to the brink. Meanwhile, American Nazis march openly in the streets, and Flat Earth theory is back. What the heck is going on? Why is all this happening, and why now? More important, what can we do about it?

In Mental Immunity, Andy Norman shows that these phenomena share a root cause. We live in a time when the so-called “right to your opinion” is thought to trump our responsibilities. The resulting ethos effectively compromises mental immune systems, allowing “mind parasites” to overrun them. Conspiracy theories, evidence-defying ideologies, garden-variety bad ideas: these are all species of mind parasite, and each of them employs clever strategies to circumvent mental immune systems. In fact, some of them compromise cultural immune systems – the things societies do to prevent bad ideas from spreading. Norman shows why all of this is more than mere analogy: minds and cultures really do have immune systems, and they really can break down. Fortunately, they can also be built up: strengthened against ideological corruption. He calls for a rigorous science of mental immune health – what he calls “cognitive immunology” – and explains how it could revolutionize our capacity for critical thinking.

Hailed as “a feast for thought,” Mental Immunity melds cutting-edge work in science and philosophy into an “astonishingly enlightening and productive” solution to the signature problem of our age. A practical guide to spotting and removing bad ideas, a stirring call to transcend our petty tribalisms, and a serious bid to bring humanity to its senses.