Volume 27 Number 46
                      Produced: Tue Dec 30 17:17:49 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artifacts from Victims Remains
         [Ed Ehrlich]
Chanukah and the Menorah Miracle
         [Yacov David Shulman]
Complete Hallel on Chanukah
         [Mayer Danziger]
Kiruv Alienating?
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]


From: <eehrlich@...> (Ed Ehrlich)
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 11:43:58 +0200
Subject: Artifacts from Victims Remains

Ray Well <harhas@...> requested that I provide a 'reputable 
authority' for my claim that the reports of the Nazis making soap from 
Holocaust victims' remains are not true.

Ray also wrote:

>i saw one of these soaps myself, taken from a concentration camp by a 
>world war II jewish chaplain whose relative showed it to me. the 
>piece of soap - gray in color - is imprinted with 'RIF 0113' on one 
>side, on the reverse side the date of when it was acquired, 1945, is 
>written by pen. it obviously was known to manufactured from jewish 
>victims at the time it was acquired. i was told that RIF stands for 
>the german meaning 'pure jewish fat'.

I have no doubt that Ray and the many others who have seen bars of 
soap with the initials RIF sincerely believe, as many Holocaust 
victims believed, that RIF stands for 'pure Jewish fat.'

Below are two letters from Professor Yehudah Bauer that give the full 
explanation to the actual origin of these bars of soap.  I found these 
letters on the http://www.nizkor.org site which is dedicated to 
fighting the obscenity of Holocaust denial.

Professor Bauer ends one of his letters with the following eloquent 

'The reason why one has to be accurate is that one has to exercise 
tremendous responsibility and deep respect towards the victims and 
their relatives and towards the memory of the millions of Jewish dead. 
What the Nazis did is horrendous enough; we do not need to believe the 
additional horrors they thought about but did not have time to 
realize. The Holocaust deniers waiting in the wings are eager to pick 
up any inaccuracies we may inadvertently commit, and we should not 
ease their "work."' 

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>

>From the Jerusalem Post, May 29, 1990, p. 4: 

To the Editor of the Jerusalem Post: 

Sir, - Neil Kuchinsky (letters, May 20) quotes from the Nuremberg trial
transcripts to show that the Germans made soap from human bodies at the
Danzig Anatomic Institute, basing himself on the testimony of two
British PoWs and a German laboratory assistant. The facts are
correct. They were quoted in extenso in a Czech- language book by Ota
Kraus and Erich Kulka, and are well-known to historians.

The reason why no historian has ever claimed that Germans made
industrial use of human bodies for the production of soap is also
contained in those very testimonies. They show that the "Institute" was
established in the course of 1944 by a Danzig Nazi scientist (Dr.
Spanner) who invented the method by which this could be done, and
persuaded an apparently enthusiastic Berlin authority (we do not know
who it was) to support his experiments.

According to the somewhat contradictory evidence, 25 kg. or perhaps more
of this horrible substance was made, and one source claims that it was
used experimentally in Danzig itself. It emerges very clearly that this
was a first and unique experiment and that it was in its experimental
stages. The bodies used may have been those of prisoners of war and
forced labourers from the immediate vicinity. It is also clear that had
the war continued, the Nazis were certainly capable of turning this into
another mass horror.

There was no industrial production, and the pieces of soap inscribed
R.I.F. which Jewish victims were told were made of human fat were found
to contain ordinary non-organic fats (R.I.F. means Reichsstelle fuer
Industrielle Fettversorgung, or State Centre for Supply of Fats, and not
Pure Jewish Fat, as the victims were told by the Nazis).

The reason why one has to be accurate is that one has to exercise
tremendous responsibility and deep respect towards the victims and their
relatives and towards the memory of the millions of Jewish dead.  What
the Nazis did is horrendous enough; we do not need to believe the
additional horrors they thought about but did not have time to
realize. The Holocaust deniers waiting in the wings are eager to pick up
any inaccuracies we may inadvertently commit, and we should not ease
their "work."

Yehuda Bauer 


January 9, 1991 

The Editor 
The Jewish Standard - 385 Prospect Avenue 
Hackensack, NJ 07601 - USA 

Dear Sir, 

It is only at this late date that the issue of your paper of May 25,
1990, reached me, with a letter by Mr. George Starkman, disputing my
statement that there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the claim
that Nazis made soap out of bodies of Jews.

Mr. Starkman states that the soap was distributed in Poland on rationing
stamps starting in 1941 and bore the inscription RJF, which he
translates as "rein Juden fett."

In fact, the bars of soap, some of which can be seen in Jewish Memorial
museums, including in Jerusalem, have the letters "R.I.F."  written on
them, and they mean "Reichsstelle fuer Industrielle Fettversorgung," or
Reich Center for Industrial Supplies of Fats. The terms "rein Juden
fett" spelt in this form does not exist in German in any case, and in
1941, when Mr. Starkman correctly states the soap was being distributed,
there were as yet no extermination camps in existence. The first,
Chelmno, started operating on December 8, 1941, the second, Belzec, in
March. Auschwitz had experimental gassings going on since January, 1942.

The source of the legend was a rumor current in World War I, spread by
the British, that the Germans were using bodies of their own soldiers
for fat or manure production -- the rumor was disproved after 1918.  The
Nazis resuscitated the rumor, and used it as a form of additional
sadism, in words this time, on their Jewish victims: it was the Nazis
who told the Jews they would be made into soap, and the Poles heard it
from the Nazis.

At the end of the war, the Russians uncovered, near Gdansk [then known
as Danzig (JD)], a small laboratory in which parts of human bodies were
used, of Polish and Russian slave workers probably, for some chemical
purposes. These experiments could possibly have involved attempts to
make soap out of human fats (which we know today is an almost impossible
thing to do), but the Nazis apparently never managed to go beyond the
experimental stage, if indeed that is what they were trying to do
there. The laboratory was small, and it had been established only
towards the end of the war. It did not involve Jewish bodies. The
Russian prosecutor at Nuremberg brought the issue up in the trials, but
had to drop it because no proof could be presented that these were
actual experiments for the production of soap.

One has to fight wrong perceptions of the Holocaust, even if large
numbers of survivors accept them as true. It is not as though the Nazis
were not capable of this atrocity -- they certainly were -- but they,
factually, did not do it. To claim, on the basis of Polish antisemitic
slogans, or on the basis of rumors current in the camps -- in Auschwitz
this was an accepted rumor -- that soap was produced of Jewish bodies,
simply plays into the hands of the deniers of the Holocaust, who can
easily prove that nothing of the kind ever happened. I deeply respect
survivors' testimonies, and Mr. Starkman's is one of these, but that
does not mean to say that such testimonies are free from misperceptions.

Yehuda Bauer 
Professor of Holocaust Studies 


From: Yacov David Shulman <Yacovdavid@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 14:09:30 EST
Subject: Chanukah and the Menorah Miracle

The books of Maccabees make no reference to anything unusual (much less
a miracle) involving the menorah of the Beit Hamikdash.  They do both
note that the date of the liberation (25 Kislev) was extraordinary,
marking the exact date of the anniversary of its defilement.  No mention
is made of how the holiday is to be celebrated.  And apparently the
holiday was known as Succot: "Therefore whereas we are now purposed to
keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of
Chislev, we thougth it necessary to certify you therof, that ye also
might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles..."  (Maccabees II 1:18,
King James translation).

Any contention that the books of the Maccabees were stressing the
military prowess of the Chashmonaim and thus played down any miraculous
aspects cannot be correct.  It is the second book of Maccabees, which
mentions the connection between the first Chanukah and Succot, which
also mentions a number of miracles that the Gemara does not take note
of.  (An angelic being on an angelic horse injures a Greek, and images
of battling soldiers appear against the sky.)

Apparently, the rabbinic history, Seder Olam Zuta, also does not mention
any menorah miracle (I did not see this "inside," but mention of this is
made in a footnote in Artscroll's volume on Chanukah.  Incidentally,
Artscroll does not mention the books of Maccabee's omission of the
menorah miracle.)

And Josephus writes, in relating this episode: "Now Judas celebrated the
festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight
days...they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a
festival on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for
eight days.  And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and
call it 'Lights.'  I suppose the reason was, because this liberty
beyound our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to
that festival" (translated by William Whiston).  (Incidentally, in his
book on Chanukah, Matis Weinberg derides the reference to Chanukah as
"Urim" as a modern invention that ignores the nature of Chanukah.)

It seems clear that Josephus was unfamiliar with the story of the
menorah miracle, as well as with any custom involving lighting a

The first reference to the menorah miracle I know of is from the
Gemara--which is the furthest removed chronologically of the sources
mentioned above.

Does anyone have any other information or reasoned speculation?


From: Mayer Danziger <danziger@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 16:29:44 -0500
Subject: Complete Hallel on Chanukah

One of the reasons we do not recite the entire hallel during the latter
part of Pesach is due to the drowning of the Egyptians during the
splitting of the sea on the seventh day of Pesach. God says "my
creatures are lying dead and you (the Jews) are singing praise?".  When
the Hasmoneans re-took the Temple on Chanukah, there obviously were many
Assyrians killed. Why then, on Chanukah do we recite whole Hallel and
not show the same concern for the dead Assyrians?

Mayer Danziger


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <stvhoof@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 22:00:15 +0200
Subject: Kiruv Alienating?

Somewhat co-incidentally, just a day or so after reading on this list
that there is a problem of Israeli kiruv activists advocating breaking
off ties with their families, I hapenned to run in to a product of just
such an activist.  Indeed, he told me that he had broken off contact
with his family (who also live in Israel) refusing categorically to
visit any of them and not allowing them to visit him except for rare
occasions, such as "simchas".  When I confronted him with my experiences
in the "American" kiruv scene and that I had heard the exact opposite
(namely, that a baal tshuva should be very careful to maintain a good
relationship with his/her family), he brushed it off by saying that I
should really start speaking to more "serious" rabbis and learn more
"mussar" and that by learning "mussar" I would discover on my own how
harmful it is for a "talmid chochom" to speak with an "am haAretz" and
especially how harmful it is for one's children who should not be
exposed to the existence of "another way" besides Torah.  This person
also insisted that "honoring parents" (one of the Ten Commandments) does
not apply to non-religious parents. [I had learned the opposite].

My wife got extremely upset when she heard this story and immediately
insisted that I stop talking about it, and that I never tell her the
identity of the person I spoke to.  (She has an excellent relationship
with her parents, who are not religious, and has constant contact with
them, even though they live about 10,000 miles away)

It also was new to me.  The most extreme position I'd heard of before
this was the opinion that one should not visit non-frum relatives in
their homes, but rather invite them to yours.  However, I've also heard
many rabbis encourage visits to homes of non-frum relatives, as long as
it is carefully planned in advance to avoid friction.

The "cut-off" approach seems to me very likely to turn away many
potential baalei tshuva.  A common scenario would be that "Mrs. Cohen"
mentions to her friend "Mrs. Levi" that her son is thinking about
becoming more religious.  Normally Mrs. Cohen would not object to this,
but when Mrs. Levi hears of this she gives Mrs. Cohen a litany of horror
stories about people she knows who have "lost" their children, when they
became religious, and broke off all contact with them.  Mrs. Cohen will
then panic and do everything she can to prevent her son from becoming
religious.  Her poor son, forced to choose between Torah and his mother,
can't win, whichever he chooses.

This whole business seems to give Torah a reputation as something that
breaks up families, when the opposite impression should be the case.
Maybe I'm missing something here?  Would anyone care to clarify or
explain this "cut-off" policy?  Does it have something to do with an
element Israeli culture that makes continuing a relationship with one's
family impossible?



End of Volume 27 Issue 46