Kerry gets news of relatives killed in Holocaust

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new york (jta) | Earlier this election season, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean received news that the remains of his brother, who died while traveling in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, had been recovered.

Now, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is getting documents about the last days of his relatives murdered during the Holocaust.

During a visit to New York, the chairman of Prague’s Jewish community, Tomas Jelinek, presented the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research with copies of the original transport lists for Otto and Jenny Loewe, Kerry’s paternal grandmother’s brother and sister, who were sent to their deaths on Nazi transports.

Jelinek said he had decided to track down the records in Prague after learning from American media reports about Kerry’s Jewish roots.

“I presented copies of the records to YIVO as a gift and asked them to pass them on to Sen. Kerry,” Jelinek said. “We know how touching this kind of information is for Jewish communities in Europe and thought it would be of interest to Sen. Kerry’s family.”

The records show that Otto, who was born in Budapest, was transported from Vienna to the Terezin transit camp, also known as Theresienstadt, in July 1942. He died there on June 29, 1943.

His sister, Jenny, was transported from Vienna to Terezin later. On Sept. 26, 1942, she was sent from Terezin to the Maly Trostinec concentration camp in Belarus, where she was subsequently killed.

Jelinek presented the records at the launch of an exhibition of the works of the late Czech artist Alfred Kantor, who depicted scenes of everyday Nazi brutality during the Holocaust.

Kantor, who survived Terezin, produced 127 drawings and sketches from memory after the originals had been lost. Kantor immigrated to the United States after the war and died last year in Maine.

Jelinek also was in New York to launch a fund-raising drive for a new $6 million senior home for Holocaust survivors in Prague, called Project Hagibor. The planned 60-bed facility aims to provide round-the-clock care for some of Prague’s estimated 1,500 Holocaust survivors.