Remembering The Holocaust

Be kind

Below is from the Planet



It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Seventy-eight years ago, on January 27, 1945, soldiers of the Red Army opened the gates of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. At first, everything seemed abandoned, but then they realized there were still thousands of people. About 7,000 prisoners awaited liberation in the Main Camp, Birkenau, and Monowitz. 

Georgii Elisavetskii, one of the first Red Army soldiers to step into Auschwitz, a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps, described what happened then: “They rushed toward us shouting, fell on their knees, kissed the flaps of our overcoats, and threw their arms around our legs,” 

Over a million people deported to Auschwitz perished there, and it is estimated that six million Jews were exterminated in the death camps.

Each year on the anniversary of the camp’s liberation, we remember and pay our respects to the victims; we should not forget them on all other days, and we should continue to do so for years to come. But there is another aspect to these commemorations; they increase our awareness of atrocities such as genocide and war. It is a first step for each of us to gain insight into what ideologies and actions can lead to such terrible acts, as well as into strategies that can be implemented to prevent them from occurring.

It makes commemoration not only somber but also inspirational because it links the past to the future. The dangerous mix of ingredients that led to hate, discrimination, and, ultimately, the unprecedented crime of the Holocaust may haunt humanity again in the future. Understanding what happened is the first step to avoiding repetition. And unfortunately, parallels between current events and the rise of fascism in the 1930s are easier to recognize in several of today’s societies than just a decade ago.

This brings me to this image I saw months ago circulating on social media. 

It’s a warning for all of us that the law should never be confused with a moral compass. Always think critically, question the actions of our leaders, and never blindly follow the directions they put in place. 

Our hearts should be filled with humanity, compassion, and kindness. While reading about the Auschwitz liberation, I was struck by the love and tenderness of one man who wrote to his wife and daughter while living in the hell of the extermination camp and realizing he would not survive.

Life in Auschwitz-Birkenau was filled with fear and uncertainty, especially for those chosen to work in the Sonderkommando. They were forced to carry out tasks in and around the gas chambers and were well aware that the Nazis would not let them live to ensure they would never disclose to the world what had happened there.

One of them, Hersz Strasfogel, wrote a letter in November 1944 and it is one of the only five buried accounts by former Auschwitz Sonderkommando that have been unearthed. It was discovered buried near the gas chamber ruins after World War II. The letter was written to his wife and daughter, who were living in France then. It became known as the Chaïm Herman letter but has, after extensive historical research, in 2019 been attributed to Hersz Strasfogel. Both of them did not survive Auschwitz. 

When I write today with great risk and danger, I do it in order to tell you that this is my last letter, our days are numbered and if one day you receive this missive, you will have to include me among the millions of our brothers and sisters who had vanished from this world. I am taking this opportunity of assuring you that I am leaving calmly and perhaps heroically (this will depend on circumstances), with one sorrow only that I cannot see you once more, not even for one moment…I ask your forgiveness, my dear wife, if there had been, at various times, trifling misunderstandings in our life, now I see how one was unable to value the passing time; I constantly thought here that, should I by some miracle get out of here, I would begin a new life… but alas, this is impossible, nobody gets out of here, all is over…I am sending you my last farewell for ever, these are my last greetings, I embrace you most heartily for the last time and I beg you once more, do believe me that I am going away calmly, knowing that you are alive and our enemy is broken…Farewell my dear wife and my dear Simone, accept my wishes and live in Peace, may God keep you in His care.Thousands of kisses from your father and husband.

Let me end with a quote from one of the other four letters that have been found, written by Zalman Gradowski, and found buried at an Auschwitz crematorium site:

Dear finder of these notes, I have one request of you, which is, in fact, the practical objective for my writing … that my days of hell, that my hopeless tomorrow will find a purpose in the future. 

He wrote so that his execution would find a purpose. He wrote so that we know, will never forget, and will prevent that we confuse the law with our moral compass.

If you are a parent or a teacher, please ensure the next generation learns these lessons from history. Teach kids and students to think for themselves and have their own values and beliefs.

Especially in today’s world, where populism is rising, it is crucial to think critically and question our leaders’ actions rather than blindly following the laws they put in place.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Vote for Democracy and Truth

There are so many things wrong with this election it is hard to know where to start. Too many lies, too much money, voter restrictions, election deniers, conspiracies, and awful candidates.

Vote! The most important thing you will do in November!

What is good? This is our voice, our participation in democracy. A voice that can be taken away if we vote for the wrong candidates.

Be open minded and vote for the future.

Voting is not easy, and no one wants to be a gullible voter. Never base your vote on campaign ads. Good voters guides are easily available. Newspaper endorsements are good sources for how candidates stand on the issues, even if you don’t agree, they often give both sides of the issues. Websites of candidates work also. Be open minded and look for the issues you care about.

Look for the positive. Who has a vision for the future instead of just attacking their opponents. Never vote for bullies or those who call for violence.

This is your vote for a better society. Make a plan and get yourself to the polls. Thank you.

An excellent interview with Liz Cheney:

Reasons to be Plastic-free

The plastic industry and manufacturers have made it impossible to be plastic-free. As consumers we need to hold them accountable. I call or email companies that use #7 plastic for packaging to complain about the packaging they use. #7 plastic is a composite of different plastics making it hard to recycle. Somehow #7 packaging companies, like Bob’s Red Mill, have managed to stay under the radar screen of scrutiny. Don’t purchase products in plastic that is not recyclable. My husband and I have found recyclable plastic to replace #7, but look for, and wish for alternatives for all plastic. We refill our reusable containers with bulk items at a food coop, but as you know many things are not available in bulk.

The thought of ingesting plastic and all its chemicals is upsetting, and we must stay after manufacturers to break the plastic habit. Our grandparents did just fine without so much plastic, and I think we all can too. See what John Oliver has to say below.

“Plastic really is ubiquitous,” but “for almost as long as plastics have been around, there’s been the question of what to do with them after they’re used,” John Oliver said. ” This is an urgent, growing question, too. “Half of all plastics ever made have been produced since 2005,” he said, and “a lot less plastic winds up getting recycled than you might think” — less than 9 percent in the U.S.

“The fact is, a huge amount of the plastic surrounding us isn’t recycled because it’s not really recyclable, and that means that it ends up in landfills, or burned, or in the ocean, where it breaks down into microplastics, gets eaten by fish, and can end up inside us,” Oliver said. “A recent study even estimated that an average person globally could be ingesting about a credit card’s worth of plastic into their system every week. Which kind of explains Capital One’s new slogan: ‘What’s in your stomach?'” John Oliver

Reading watching list:

Plastics recycling is 90 percent garbage, John Oliver says, but that’s not your fault and there is a fix ( 

Watch Story of the Bottle! – Greenpeace

Virginia Governor Takes Action on Single-Use Plastics – EcoWatch

Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act Receives National Support – Center for Biological Diversity 

 U.S. lawmakers target plastic pollution, producers in new legislation | Reuters

Celebrating Women

International Women's Day
All women and girls need a chance for education

Today is #InternationalWomensDay and we recognize that women are still far from equal to men in today’s societies. We still have a very long way to go.
Those who will suffer the most from the climate- and environmental crisis are the ones who are already the most vulnerable, socially and financially. And that tends to be women living in the global south… We can not have climate justice without gender equality.
And remember; what we women want today – and every day- is fundamental equal rights, not congratulations or celebrations.”  Greta Thunberg

It seems an irony to be celebrating International Women’s Day after the primary elections in the United States turned away Elizabeth Warren, an outstanding candidate, from running for president. I would like to know where the women of this country are?  Why would they vote for old white men when they have a better female choice? It is a mystery.

On this day we are celebrate all the women we know and all they do to make the world a better place and make the lives around them better everyday!

Women and girls need education and family planning so they can take control of their own lives. 

Time Magazine’s issue this week is about women leaders of the last 100 years. Just imagine a 100 years from now! 100 women

Besides Greta, there are other women working on climate issues, women environmental leaders.



Reduce the waste you generate!

Purchasing recycled products saves raw materials and adds valuable jobs

“I only feel angry when I see waste, when I see people throwing away things we could use.” Mother Teresa        Only 9% of recyclables are recycled in the United States compared with Germany and Norway that recycle in the 60% range. Plastic manufacturers continue to create more plastic and push recycling. Unfortunately,  recycling is not a sustainable option. I hope you will work hard to recycle your bottles, containers and paper waste because making things from recycled material is awesome and saves lots of energy and natural resources, but as consumers we need to also purchase items made from recycled materials.

A new paradigm is needed, we all need to reduce the waste and recycling we generate. Wasteful packaging needs to stop! Make it a priority in your life to reduce the waste you generate. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

First, cook at home instead of take-out. Yes, it is some work, but organizing to have a few meals made ahead or in crock pots can reduce lots of waste and be fun at the same time.

Always carry your reusable water bottle and reusable bags.

Be a smart shopper, always think how you can purchase less waste, especially plastic waste. Don’t purchase plastic or Styrofoam trayed produce. Many stores have cloth bags you can purchase for produce.

Use cotton or paper bags

Shop in bulk and refill any bottles your grocery store makes possible. Food coops have lots of refill options.

Choose products out of recycled material if you can find them.

Never put plastic bags in your recycling cart, recycle them at your local stores.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!


Target, Stop Single-use Plastic!

Recycling is important, but it just isn’t enough to solve our plastic problem. What is the solution?  Last week I had this letter (below) published in the  in response to Target rolling out their new “green” products:

Earth-friendly line is insufficient; stop stocking single-use plastic

Reuse and refill your own bottles

Plastic bottles, plastic bottles — Target must have missed the memo on how harmful single-use plastic is to our Earth (“Target rolls out earth-friendly household goods,” April 23). To be truly green, Target needs to offer consumers the ability to refill their own bottles with these new “green” products. Customers who care about all the plastic in our environment can now reuse and refill their bottles at Minnesota’s excellent food co-ops, or the new zero-waste Tare Market in Minneapolis where consumers can save money and help our environment at the same time. Many of these bulk products are even Minnesota-sourced. Let’s move to the paradigm of reusing instead of adding more single-use plastic to our landfills, and I’m encouraging Target to become the business leader in this reuse/refill movement.  health4earth

Why isn’t recycling enough?

  1. We should all be demanding a zero waste economy with fees and bans on plastic, but of course, the plastics industry is in control
  2. See what happens to some of the material we recycle  here

31 days of Reducing Trash and Waste

Work for zero waste and reducing food waste!


From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)

We can all do something about this tremendous influx of trash and I will be posting ideas for 31 days on how to reduce trash and waste:

Day 31, Set new goals to help the environment for the new year. Suggestions: Be more vigilant about recycling, start a compost bin, recycle all shampoo and cosmetic plastic, use less chemicals, and make a commitment to get outside and appreciate our beautiful earth.recycle

Day 30, Recycle, recycle, recycle Instead of throwing everything in the landfill trash recycle all plastic including plastic wrap and bags.  Many communities recycle wrapping paper without glitter.  Compost your food waste, and re-gift(give to someone who…

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It’s For the Birds!

Black-capped chickadee outside my window

2018 is the year of the bird!

What does that mean? It means Audubon, National Geographic, Cornell, BirdLife International, and most importantly, bird lovers everywhere are teaming up for a year of action for birds! 2018 is the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and what better way to honor our most important bird-protection law than with our own small ways of protecting birds.  Sign up to take a pledge to help birds here.


My bird friendly yard. The birds eat the seeds of these cone flowers all winter

Birds are struggling because of loss of habitat, and heavy use of pesticides and other chemicals by farmers, corporations and gardeners. My thing is creating a friendly habitat for birds. Audubon has plants for bird friendly yards. Read at Audubon


Do Something Nice Day!

One smile makes lots of smiles…go on smile!

October 5 is the national day to do something nice, and after weeks of tragedy and deaths from gun violence and hurricane suffering we need a break. So today get out and smile, be pleasant to everyone you see!
Do something nice for the earth also. Avoid plastic, pick up trash, buy organic, go meatless, leave your car at home, and walk or take the bus. Do something Nice!

The Horrifying Impact of Plastic Pollution

This is the third blog this week I have done on plastic. If this doesn’t cause you to reduce plastic use, nothing will.  Plastic is harmful to wildlife, but it is also ending up in our food. Make reduction of plastic-use a daily habit.

Photo: Shutterstock


“The horrifying impact of plastic pollution on marine life is well documented.  Greenpeace found that plastic pollution in the ocean has negatively affected at least 267 species worldwide, including 86 percent of all sea turtle species, 44 percent of all seabird species and 43 percent of all marine mammal species. Large pieces of plastic floating in the ocean are easily mistaken for food by seabirds, whales, dolphins and turtles. When plastic is ingested by these animals, it blocks their digestive tracts and gets lodged in their windpipes, cutting off or filling their stomach, which results in malnutrition, starvation and death. It also causes fatalities due to infection, drowning and entanglement.” Earth911. Read the entire article here 

Simple ways to reduce your plastic pollution:

Bring you own bag
Bring you own bag

  1. Start simple and add one idea at a time
  2. Bring your own shopping bags
  3. Buy bulk and refill your own containers
  4. Don’t purchase bottled water
  5. Say “No” to straws, plastic spoons, forks, and knives
  6. Always choose glass containers over plastic!
  7. Never purchase Styrofoam (Be aware of meat and produce trays)