August 5, 1920 – April 16, 2021
“I have just learned of the passing of our dear friend, leader, mentor John Ranz. He was 100. John was a founder of JRI and one of our most important leaders. Born in Poland, he was a leader of the Hashomer Hatzair (Socialist Zionist) movement before World War II and then a Jewish partisan guerrilla fighter during the war, closely involved with the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as well. Eventually captured by the Nazis, he was sent to Buchenwald where German Communists protected him, identifying him as non-Jewish.
After liberation, having lost their families, he and his wife Nitza came to the United States after spending some time in Displaced Persons camps. John devoted his life to teaching the world the lessons of the Holocaust. A life-long Socialist he was devoted to the betterment of the human race, anti-racism, anti-fascism and the planet. He was for a time the international leader of Buchenwald Survivors.
Long before most other people, he understood and spoke out against the destruction of Yugoslavia and the dangers of a reborn Croatian fascism with its Bosnian Muslim adjunct, backed by a reborn imperialist Germany and supported by US imperialism.
In opposition to a brain-dead Anglo-American left, he stepped up and often led the fight against the anti-Serbian calumny that swept the world in the 1990s. We met at Columbia University in 1993 after a revolting hate festival organized by Bogdan Denitch and others calling for war against the Serbs, where we were the only two people out of hundreds in attendance who spoke out against it.
At the end of the event the then 73-year-old Holocaust Survivor ran after me in the halls and shouted after me: “Wait! You can’t leave without giving me your information. We must work together!”
Thus began a beautiful friendship. In February 1994, we were both attacked and nearly killed by Croatian and Bosnian Muslim fascist thugs simply for handing out leaflets that said “Clinton – Do not do what Hitler did!” (Of course, Clinton did do what Hitler did.)
Those who remember John will remember his passionate and intelligent speeches. He never failed to remind people that Serbs and Jews fought together and died together against fascism during the war and in the camps and shared the same fate.
At the first International Conference and Exhibition on Jasenovac in 1997, he demanded that all Holocaust organizations apologize to the Serbian people for failing to recognize them as victims of the Holocaust.
He was then there at the founding meeting of the Jasenovac Research Institute at the end of that conference on October 31, 1997.
I have sent condolences to John’s daughter Shirley, son Sheldon, and family. Although he suffered from Alzheimers during the last 10 years of his life, he still could recognize me even recently and only suffered during the last week of his long and amazing life.
May his memory be eternal and inspire us all. The family will hold a private funeral and will not be sitting Shivah due to COVID.
Written by Barry Lituchy
Jasenovac Research Institute