It is rather challenging to give an account for 84 years of robust life and a book review.
That is the task I took upon myself when I interviewed Severyn Ashkenazy. Born in 1936, a Holocaust survivor, a father and a grandfather, a pioneer of the City of Beverly Hills, the founder of the L’Ermitage Hotel and past chairman of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Severyn is now the author of the book ‘Swords of The Vatican, Reflections Of A Witness To Evil . His book is a disturbing revelation how the Vatican created hate and injustice against Jews, Muslims, and LGBTQ groups that still continues today. More revealing, how Antisemitism came about and why people hate the Jews.
Severyn, born to an affluent family, his mother tongue French and German, originally from Ternopil, today city in western Ukraine, located on the banks of the Seret that until 1944 was known as Tarnopol, located in the historical regions of Galicia and Podolia.
“How did you survived the Holocaust?” I asked?
For two and a half years, under their house’s cellar, my parents, brother and I were hidden by a Christian couple and their two teen age kids, whom we knew.
All of a sudden Severyn challenges my knowledge: “Do you know who invented the idea to put a ‘J’ in all passports issued to Jews? It was Dr. Heinrich Rothmund, the Swiss Chief of the Police, the originator of the discriminatory ‘J’ decree that was stamped into the passports of all Jews by Nazi Germany.”
“It was a politically correct anti-Semitic decree,” says Severyn. “Heinrich Rothmund traveled to Berlin where he met with Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Reich’s main security office (RSHA), and sold him the ‘J’ idea.”
Moving to France
Surviving the hands of the Nazis, in 1946, when Severyn was 10-year-old the Ashkenazy family emigrated to France. His mother’s brother was already living in France and with French being his mother’s tongue acclamation to the new country was easy.
At the age of 18-year-old he graduated high school.
His interests were wars and Antisemitism. Being an avid reader he read a book a week on the subjects. The war that just ended and the systematic murder of Jews made Severyn wonder why Jews?
Over the years his collections of books made up two large libraries one of which he donated to the reviving Jewish community in Poland, the Beit Warszawa, the first progressive Jewish community in Poland since WWII and Beit Polska, the umbrella organization for progressive Jewish communities, both he single handed helped build.
Arriving in America
In 1957 Severyn arrived to California, USA, where, in 1958, he completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA and in 1962 he advanced to PhD candidacy, graduating in literature studies.
In 2014 Severyn delivered the UCLA Humanities Commencement speech, in it he addressed the students putting the onus on them to make the world a better place to live. “One is never less because someone wants to be more … ,” was one of the speech’s gems.
Severyn spent years researching the long-ongoing and troubling Jew hatred history, details most of his intellectual friends knew nothing about. The intention to put all his notes on the subject into a book only came about some six years ago, “so it is not wasted,” he explains. Three years ago he decided to collate his notes into a book at least for his children; “if they will have interest to pursue the subject they will have a base,” he explained.
On the book ‘Swords of The Vatican, Reflections Of A Witness To Evil‘
The book serves as an eye opener to the originality of the infectious Antisemitism syndrome.
For 4-5 years, while hiding from the Nazis, he was a pretentious Catholic. “I am therefore, familiar with the faith,” he claims.
“The book is based on facts, all checked out, while some details are my own impression and reflections,” Severyn gets into the main reason we are holding this interview. “The book gives the reader truth’s basis. The 200 page may shock the reader how much he or she did not know along with the knowledge that could be gained from reading it. Things I could not prove I would not write about,” Severyn emphasized.
Reading along, the book covers era after era, decade after decade, to arrive at the obvious that lies perpetrated about the Jews became a justified reason to hate and harm them.
The book details a thorough researched facts leaving no doubt that hate and Antisemitism began at the birth of Christianity. Not undermining the faith, rather shining the light on where the use of force and violence toward fellow human came from.
In his lifelong desire to understand the hate toward Jews’ roots, Severyn proves that Jews were perpetually used as scapegoats. He makes sure to denote that he does not blame the Christians.
However, his research points out that Jesus did not exist, rather, was an invented figure.
Severyn claims that Mithraism, aka the Mithraic mysteries, the Roman mystery religion centered on the god Mithras was Christianity’s blueprint. “Paul the Apostle, known by his Hebrew name Saul of Tarsus, already had the blue print ready to present to the world.”
The book deals with the most controversial issue, the blame that the Jews killed Jesus. But the facts the book presents indicate that this was never the truth. The historical fact is that the Romans who ruled the land of Israel at that time regularly used crucifixion to punish by torture their subjugated.
Straight out of the Vatican came manufactured lies, false documents and hidden crimes against the Jews. For centuries the Vatican has used its force to enact brutality, torture, forced conversion and horrible forms of death for Jews. Jews were blamed for acts they never would have or could have committed; they became an easy target so the Vatican could take whatever it wanted, from property to power, in order to dominate.
The Vatican used hate to destroy the Jews, even gave lessons on the subject matter. Vatican policies showed world’s leaders and dictators alike how to create false documents and blame the Jews relentlessly.
I had to ask, “What will these facts staring at humanity do?”
“I hope the book will lead to a better understanding and will lessens Antisemitism in the world,” he replied
“And why this hate?” I asked.
“The book clarifies that the use of force was used to control populations. The Vatican dominated large groups of people who either would not convert to Christianity or, in the Vatican’s eyes were deemed lesser humans, such as Jews, LGBTQ people, Muslims and even some sects of Christianity that would not adhere to the Catholic Church doctrine.”
In seven pages – 66-73 – of the 204 page book one can read about at least 82 atrocities committed throughout history against the Jews, a fraction of the atrocities the book lists. The book counts numerous eras of injustice and horror planned and executed by world’s leaders who followed the Vatican’s lead.
The Vatican’s animosity toward the Jews manifested in its deliberate and obvious disregard for the safety and well-being of the Jews.
The Nazi’s horrific approach toward Jews followed the Vatican’s alleged claim that Jews were a nefarious element within the Christian world who, if left unrestrained, would intentionally destroy it.
During the Holocaust, when pressed to make public statements about the Jews, Pope Pius XII was careful to never condemn the Nazi perpetrators, never suggested the persecution of the Jews was unwarranted. He did however, emotionlessly decried their abject fate.
In the spring of 1943, while the slaughter of the Jews was well underway, the Zionists, confident the Allies will be victorious, declared their intention to create a refuge haven for Jews in British mandate Palestine AKA the land of Israel. As the news reached the Vatican, it reacted with crafty, self-interest along its ongoing disregard for the Jews’ life-threatening quandary. The Vatican embarked on efforts to derail the intentions of Jews to arrive on the shore of their ancient homeland.
Pope Pius XII was rather confident that he could find a sympathetic ear in President Roosevelt, hoping for the United States to eventually become the Vatican’s newest sword to stab the Jews.
What exactly was the Vatican so afraid of?
Well before the emergence of modern Zionism, in the late 19th Century, the yearning of the Jewish people for political independence had already been recognized. For example, in 1762, Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote: “It seems to me we will never come to understand what the Jews are saying until they have a free state, schools and universities in which they will be able to speak freely and discuss matters without danger. Only then will we be able to know what they have to say.”
In his 1877-1883 Notebooks and Journals, Mark Twain wrote: “The Jews have the best average brain of any people in the world … They are peculiarly and conspicuously the world’s intellectual aristocracy.”
Were Jews a threat to the Vatican’s existence?
In 1948 the Jewish state of Israel came to be. Using all its platforms-from the pulpit to the media- the Vatican forcefully declared that the Western nations had made a grievous error when they allowed Israel to become a haven for Jews.
Among its concocted claims, the Vatican argued that the rights of Catholics would be imperiled by the new Jewish state, they would no longer be able to worship in Israel.
Once the sovereign Jewish State, Israel, was declared, the Vatican’s daily newspaper echoed some of the most caustic Nazi rhetoric when it stated, “The birth of Israel gives Moscow a basis in the Near East through which the microbes can grow and be disseminated.” At the same time, the French-Catholic newspaper, La Documentation Catholique, took the opposite tack, arguing that Jews were hypocrites, using their newfound statehood power to exact revenge with its policies declaring that “Zionism is the new Nazism.” Sadly, the Vatican’s aggressive anti-Zionist arguments were so effective and relentless it echoes still today.
Current Violent Riots in the United States and Beyond
In the era of COVID-19, 2020, the bigotry against the Jews, this malignant hate continues. The noise that the Jews are to be blamed for the virus can be heard.
“I remember how scared to death and intimidated we were because of our fear of the Germans. The old concept was that the citizenry was fearful of and respected the power of the authorities. Today, the governments shake in their boots fearing the population. Four stars generals apologize, the police is scared to do their job to end the havoc,” Severyn sums up the 21st Century reality.
“Nothing has changed,” claims Severyn. Following the eruption of the riots in the United States, riots broke in other countries. In France, a country he is familiar with, the rioters yelled the anti-Semitic slur, ‘Juif,’ meaning ‘Jew’.
The enlightened Christians’ created the confession, whereby human manipulation eliminates one’s conscience, what may help to become popular.
And so I end my interview with a fascinating man by saying, maybe, just maybe with his book Severyn Ashkenazy can help for real tolerance among mankind to advance.