Homeless in November - Kristalltag
by: Schvach Yid
The anniversary of Kristallnacht is this Friday, erev Shabbos. The night of
Kristallnacht constituted a personal and group defining moment forJews in
In his great volume on the subject of Nazi Germany titled The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer calls the event of
On November 7, 1938, a seventeen year old German Jew named Herschel Grynszpan had shot and killed Ernst von Rath, the Third Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris (who, according to Shirer, had himself been targeted by the Gestapo because he had never shared the Nazi penchant for Jew-hating; Grynszpan had actually been on the hunt for Count Johannes von Welczeck, Germany’s ambassador to France).
The night of
Kristallnacht went way beyond drunk and disorderly; it was a planned event organized by the SS’s number two man in the driver’s seat - that no friend of any Jew – Reinhardt Heydrich, who had also served as the mastermind of the ‘Final Solution’ planned at the Wannsee Conference in January, 1942.
One may recall Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, was born
Do you know what Martin Luther said about Jews? Have you ever read his ditty titled The Jews and Their Lies? Liberty Bell Publications publishes their version of this slim tome. The publisher’s comments are just as telling as is Luther’s text.
Well, just as day follows night, Kristallnacht turned into ‘Kristalltag’. My mother, then fourteen years old, was home alone. My maternal grandparents had left their apartment on Westbahn Strasse in the Seventh Bezirke (district) of
Upon opening the door, my mother viewed the familiar hausmeisterin and two men standing in the entrance. The men were dressed in the standard SA uniform – brown shirts and trousers, black boots, with red arm bands that bore swastikas. They walked into the apartment and the men, who according to my mother were very polite and proper, informed her that she and her parents had to vacate their apartment. They then escorted my mother to the apartment immediately below theirs, occupied by another Jewish family.
Her parents returned to be greeted with the bad news. Several Jewish families had been corralled into that apartment; they remained there until their exit from ‘their country’ (their citizenship had already been confiscated), but later that day, my mother and grandparents were permitted to briefly return to their apartment to gather a few things, only to discover that it had been thoroughly ransacked; according to my mother, ‘everything was taken’.
If you think this isn’t the worst that could have happened, you’re right. My mother’s maternal grandparents were still in
A similar event occurred with my father’s family in Bremerhaven, Germany, except that the rioting Jew-haters tried to break down the front door of their house in an attempt to do Gd knows what; thank Gd, they didn’t succeed, but the following day, November 10, 1938, my paternal grandfather was ‘collected’ and shipped off to the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. Fortunately, their entry visas to the
Overt reminders of lousy life events have a habit of popping up after the fact. In the late 1980’s my parents and I attended an ‘air show’ – a display of primarily military aircraft, both on the ground and in flight, complete with various re-enactments of WW 2 air battles. As we left the show grounds, we passed a stand of men dressed in WW2 German military uniforms, complete with red swastika arm bands, black boots – the whole spiel. My father, who had served in the US Army during the Second World War as a hospital medic on Guadalcanal and Guam, looked at me in amazement and asked, ‘why are they dressed like that?’