Friday, December 14, 2012

Historic Czech Torah Part of Peace Curriculum at the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico

A Czechoslovakian Torah from the Czech Memorial Scroll Trust & Museum in London is on display at the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico as part of an educational initiative promoting peace.

The Torah is one of 1,564 scrolls, and other Jewish artifacts, salvaged from historic Czech synagogues left destroyed and deserted following the Nazi invasion during World War II.

In 1942, members of Prague’s Jewish community devised a way to bring the religious treasures from the deserted provincial communities to the comparative safety of Prague. The Nazis were persuaded to accept this plan and more than 100,000 items were sent to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. Among them were hundreds of Torahs. Each was meticulously recorded on a card index by the museum’s staff with a description of the scroll and the place from which it came.

In 1964, the scrolls were transferred to Westminster Synagogue in London. After months of sorting, examining and cataloguing each, the task of distributing them began with the aim of returning them to Jewish congregations worldwide. The Memorial Scrolls Trust was established to carry this out. Over the years the racks have grown vacant as one scroll after another is restored to its rightful place in Jewish life. Currently, there are about 1,400 scrolls housed all over the world.

Now the only scrolls available for distribution are those that are returned for a variety of reasons. Congregation B’nai Israel in Albuquerque obtained its Torah several years ago and has agreed to lend it to Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico. The Torah will be the centerpiece in a curriculum aimed at educating young people about the Holocaust and combating hatred.

“This is a way to remind ourselves as to what happened,” said Congregation B’nai Israel President Harvey Buchalter. “This is a Torah that once served a congregation that no longer exists. We’ve reclaimed some part of Czech Jewry that goes back 2,000 years.”

A Museum official agrees.

“If we do not learn from the inhumanities of the past and present, these brutal injustices will continue worldwide,” said Jerry Small, museum co-president. “People, especially young people, must not only be aware of this, but also understand it and become active in promoting peace.” 

The Torah and curriculum will be available until April 2013 at the New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum at 616 Central Ave. SW, in Albuquerque. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information call (505) 247-0606, or visit

The Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. This post was written by Ann Powers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

 is hosting a Film Screening - Fundraising Event 
Veteran’s Day 2012 At The
To benefit the coming exhibit,  

"The Military Family: Sacrifice 
in Support of Valor"

  • Admission into the Museum on November 11, 2012 will be free to service members, past and present, who show military identification. Regular admission prices apply to all other visitors.

  • Visitors will experience history not only through Museum exhibits but also through the personal stories of men and women who served our country. We will feature a display by OperationFootlocker. 

    Come and enjoy an appearance by filmmaker, Donna Musil!

     November 11, 2012 

10:30am       :Showtimes:       1:30 pm 

Trailer #1      Trailer #2

“Brats: Our Journey Home,” is an award-winning 2006 documentary that explores the social and psychological impacts of growing up in a military family. The first cinematic glimpse into the lives of military children, “Brats” features provocative first-person interviews, rare archival footage, as well as home movies and photographs from post-war Japan, Germany, and Vietnam. Narrated by singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson, the film welcomes viewers to listen to the intimate memories shared by U.S. military brats about their unique childhoods and adult journeys “home.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Legend of the Red Hot Chili Buzz

ATSF 2926 under estoration by the
New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society

For a couple of bucks TSgt Rangel had done a pretty nice job of painting the girl of 1Lt Tom Parson’s dreams on the nose of the new A-26 Invader recently built at the Douglas plant in Tulsa with serial number 44-35643.  “Lil Twister” featured a raven haired beauty holding a bomb and a lightning bolt overhead while an Oklahoma tornado was rising up from below where it would soon have its way with that black negligee. She was sweet and fast and agile – the airplane that is.  

Tom would not fly that particular hot machine for long.  In May 1945 he had orders to fly her to McClellan Field near Sacramento. It would go to the The 319th Bomb Group and probably the invasion of Japan. That ferry job would at least be a cross country adventure. The tracks of the AT&SF Railway made navigation easy.  Flying the iron compass of the Belen cutoff would get him to Albuquerque once he left Texas.  Out in the middle of nowhere he might even find a train to buzz.  Oklahoma was his comfortable home but this jaunt could be fun.  He would divide the trip into two days and spend the night in transient quarters at Kirtland Army Airfield. He would be hungry when he got there.  He did not like eating while flying.


El Modelo did not look like much but the guy from Operations with the ’32 Ford coupe that dropped him off there at 2nd and Bridge St. told him it had authentic New Mexican food.  When in New Mexico eat as the New Mexicans do he figured.  Maria and Salvador waved him in a welcome and suggested he try the tamales.  For 75 cents he got that unfamiliar order in one hand, a soda in the other and found an empty spot at a rough outdoor table where an engine crew sat.  
“Howdy, The name’s Tom.” he said.
 “Have a seat, sir.  I’m Glen Powers and this here is my fireman Ed Bukove.  Where ya from?”
“Oklahoma City born and raised” said Tom proudly. “I’m flying an A-26 to California.” “You boys run trains out of here?”
“Yep.  Got us a troop train leaving for California in the morning.  Gonna have one of those new 2900s to run.” said hogger Glen proudly.
“Y’all ever get buzzed by the Army Air Corps?”
“Naw.  That never happens” said Ed. “The pilot would get in big trouble.”
“You mean as if he buzzed some hot chili?” said Glen watching the wild eyed expression on Tom’s face as he chewed on his first bite of tamale.  The table shook as Glen and Ed whooped it up and pounded with their fists. 
“Damn! What is that stuff?” croaked Tom with new sweat covering his face.
“That’s Maria’s fine red hot New Mexico Red chili sauce. Hotter than a firebox. They grow it here special.” said Glen.
“Maria! Got any milk?” cried Ed, “we got us a flyboy in big trouble!”


Both Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp 18 cylinder radials had warmed up nicely as Tom waited for takeoff clearance from the tower.  He gained a few thousand feet after out over the so called Rio Grande and swung south looking for the tracks that would take him across Arizona to San Bernadino, California where he’d head north for Sacramento.  And there it was!  What luck!  ‘ATSF 2926’ was painted in silver Railroad Roman on the side of the tender.  An engineer waived back at him as the locomotive picked up speed down the valley.  That had to be Glen.  By reflex Tom nudged the throttles and pushed the yoke forward with airspeed sneaking up toward 250 knots.  In a long shallow dive he corrected right to intersect with the cab just above the smoke and any telephone poles that might be around.  As he pulled back hard and started an aileron roll to the right for a better look at Ed’s side of the locomotive he yelled, “Red Chili”. 
A-26 Invader under restoration by the
Sierra Hotel Group, commemorative Air Force

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico

The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico, founded in 1998 and opened in 2001, is dedicated to combating hate and intolerance and promoting understanding through education. The exhibits illustrate the history of the cruelty of mankind caused by prejudice and hate on a global, national and local level, culminating in the most unspeakable of horrors, the Holocaust. 
Former German officers’ quarters

Unique in North America, we include exhibits not only on the Holocaust, but also the Native American cultural genocide; Armenian, Greek, and Rwandan genocides, and slavery in America. Artifacts, memorabilia, pictures, artwork, and documents are on display. A lending and research library, now in the developmental stages, soon will be available to educators and students. In addition to a speakers’ bureau, our knowledgeable docents address thousands of school students who visit the museum each year. 

A generous grant from the McCune Foundation funds transportation costs for these field trips. We have sponsored a number of events designed to build bridges of friendship and understanding across diverse cultural groups. Also, once a month, on the third Sunday afternoon at 2, museum volunteers conduct a discussion group called Courage to Confront. There is no charge for admission to the museum; donations are appreciated.

The Flossenbürg Flag
Most folks know of the Navajo code talkers and also the heroism of New Mexicans in the Bataan Death March during World War II, but only those who have visited the Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico have seen the Flossenbürg Flag. There is only one in the entire world, and it is proudly unfurled at 616 Central Avenue SW, Albuquerque.

This likeness of the United States Flag (with 48 stars, as is pointed out to school children) amazingly was created by prisoners of the Nazis in the Flossenbürg work camp, in Germany, where inmates labored in a stone quarry and in the manufacture of munitions and arms. The flag’s background and stars and stripes most likely were painted over what was once a German flag.
Flossenbürg Castle in background            

The war’s end was rumored, and inmates, not knowing who would liberate them, created three flags: a Russian, a British, and an American. It was the Americans who marched into the camp on April 23, 1945. Horrified, General Patton ordered town residents to clean up the makeshift graves left by the Nazis rather than making his soldiers do it.

In May of that year, a Medical Collecting Company, Third Army, entered the camp. Roy Shaffer, whose life journey eventually took him to Albuquerque, noticed that no one had claimed the flag, so he was allowed to remove it and bring it back to the United States. He displayed it often on July 4th to make sure all who passed by would never forget the horrors of World War II. He donated it to the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum soon after it opened in 2001. The following is an excerpt from a draft of Roy Shaffer’s memoirs:
Roy Shaffer: My Jeep, named for my fiancée.

“The inmates at Flossenbürg must have had some intimation of the approach of US troops. In secret they fashioned three flags, one each for US, UK and Russia. Then when the German guards left (by flight or by fight; I never found out), the flags were draped on the barbed wire perimeter fence to welcome the liberators. The flags were made mainly of red Nazi banners (minus the swastika) with white and blue colors superimposed in appropriate pattern. In those days at Flossenbürg everything was in turmoil, so I cannot recall how the US flag fell into my possession. But I donated it to the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico in Albuquerque where it is on display.”
Dr. Roy D. Shaffer in front of the Flossenbürg Flag

Monday, January 30, 2012

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History represents New Mexico’s unique role in World War II in its history exhibits. The following describes how the world’s first atomic weapons came to be designed, built, and tested in New Mexico, and the Museum’s displays about the development of Fat Man and Little Boy.

It is hard to imagine a time in our past when the entire planet was locked into a struggle between powers, but it was during WWII.  Visitors to the Museum will uncover the world issues in Europe as well as in Japan that lead the United States into the war following Pearl Harbor

The dawn of the Atomic Age began with the testing of the world’s first atomic bomb in the remote New Mexico desert. The “Manhattan Project” and “Trinity and Its Legacy” exhibits show visitors how much influence over the modern world this test created.

Imagine the pressure and sense of importance felt by the project scientists as they prepared to test the “Gadget” at the secret site in New Mexico. This exhibit features a re-creation of the Trinity Tower used in the test, a replica of the Gadget device itself, and two unique automobiles that played a role in the actual test.

Two automobiles are also on view: a replica of the 1942 Plymouth Special Deluxe that carried the plutonium core to the Trinity Site, and the 1942 Packard custom limousine that carried senior scientists from Los Alamos to Trinity and other New Mexico locations.

Then visitors will see actual casings of Fat Man and Little Boy (the most photographed items in the Museum), while reading about the decision to drop the only two atomic bombs ever used during a war.

While the atomic bomb brought the war to a close, the after-effects of the bomb were felt for years in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Visitors can view the cities before, during, and after the bombs were dropped. The exhibit features a unique photographic collection of still and motion picture images that were taken soon after the bombing. The exhibit also features images that portray the people affected, as well as the cities today and the commitment to peace and conflict resolution that came after the war.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Slice of World War II in New Mexico

Brought to you by:
Santa Fe Steam Locomotive # 2926
Through the Auspicious of
The New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society

Since our Interstate highway system that allows for long distance trucking did not exists in 1940 and air cargo was in it’s infancy, railroads were the only way that troops, equipment, food stuffs and raw material could move rapidly and efficiently around our nation.

Over the years of the war, railroads moved 783 Billion Freight miles and 93 Billion Passenger miles. That movement included 43 million members of the military on 114,000 troop trains.

We have available video presentations of the US Office of War Information movies “Troop Train” and “Loaded for War” and documentation of #2926’s steam locomotive restoration.

In addition to #2926 we have on exhibit a Centennial Grant exhibit on the role of railroads in the growth and development of New Mexico

Santa Fe #2926 exists because of the US War Production Board would not grant the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’s request for additional new Diesel Locomotives. Therefore Santa Fe #2926 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone PA and delivered to the Santa Fe in May 1944.

Santa Fe #2926 was immediately put in fast freight service between Kansas City MO and Clovis NM, a one way distance of 637 miles. It is estimated that she covered 18,435 miles each month. Her 22 months of war service covered 405,570 miles.

Her post war service in crack passenger and fast freight service allowed her to accumulate an estimated 1,600,000 miles of operations prior to her being donated to the city of Albuquerque for exhibit in Coronado Park.

The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum

 When war broke out in Asia and Europe in 1939, New Mexico’s contribution to the upcoming war effort was unclear.  However, by early 1941, all New Mexico National Guard units had been ordered to active Federal duty. 

Bataan Death March Phoo
The 200th Coast Artillery served in the Philippines and was the first to fire on the Japanese as they attacked Clark Field on the 8th of December, 1941.  The 515th Coast Artillery Regiment was created later that same day and would be sent to Manila to defend it.  Some of these soldiers would suffer the infamous Bataan Death march.  Many suffered unbelievable atrocities in the Japanese hellships and in Japanese run prison camps until the end of the war.  A small group of these soldiers would fight as guerillas with the Filipinos. 

Burial Detail at O'Donnell
Two other well known New Mexico National Guard units did not serve in the Philippines.  These units served in the European Theater of Operations.  The 104th Antitank Battalion, later re-designated the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, served with the 34th Division and was unofficially the first unit to enter Rome.    The 120th Combat Engineer Battalion served with the 45th Division and was part of the landing forces during the assault into Sicily. 

Surrender of American Troops on Corregido
The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum features artifacts, images, press clippings, weapons and uniforms carried or worn by Guardsmen dating back to the 19th century.  The Museum honors the history of the New Mexico National Guard and places specific importance on the infamous Bataan Death March.   It is located near Museum Hill in Santa Fe and is maintained by the New Mexico National Guard.
The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum offers visitors a look into the proud military history of the New Mexico National Guard.   Come by and visit, admission is free.