web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Kristallnacht: A Family Recollection

By:
Front-Page-110813

Share Button

Seventy-five years ago on November 10 the Nazis unleashed a wave of terror, destruction and death known as Kristallnacht upon Germany’s Jews, a fearsome presage of the Holocaust. On that day, the childhood of my then-12-year-old father, Kurt Lion, of blessed memory, was abruptly and savagely ended.

As he later would tell me, November 10 dawned for him “like any other day and we had no idea of what was about to befall us.” Anti-Semitic rhetoric and laws had been incrementally inflicted on Jews since Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933. Under the 1935 Nuremburg laws, Jews were expelled from “Aryan” public schools. My father and other Jewish children from his farming region were forced to commute to a Jewish school in the market town of Freiburg. He found himself in frequent fights with bullies, and quickly learned to stand up for himself.

On that November 10, my father as usual took the train to Freiburg for the 10-mile journey. Leaving the train, he heard a raucous mob and saw a pall of thick smoke. Curious, he walked closer to the burning building and was horrified by what he saw. A crowd had gathered before Freiburg’s synagogue and was applauding as flames consumed the building. Firemen stood idly by their trucks, smirking. On the cobblestones was a pile of burning prayer books, Torah scrolls and furniture, dragged from the synagogue. No one did anything to stop the destruction.

Confused, my father headed toward his school and there found the teachers dismissing the students, urging them to disperse inconspicuously. Since he was far from home, a teacher suggested he lie low in Freiburg’s public gardens. After some hours, my father, alarmed at not knowing what was happening, left the park. He approached the home of family friends to seek advice. As he rounded the corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. Several policemen stood outside the house, watching the Jews. Mind racing, he quickly retreated back to the park and hid there for the rest of the afternoon. At dusk, he returned to the station and boarded the train for Ihringen. Once there, it was as if he had entered a nightmare.

He saw that Ihringen’s two-story, seventy-year-old synagogue had been burned completely to the ground. It had been a beautiful building, with intricate wall carvings, an ark filled with nine Torah scrolls, an elaborate wall-hanging depicting the twelve tribes of Israel and windows that let in sunlight through sparkling stained glass. My father had spent countless hours there, beside his father, Philip, praying and learning. Now it was gone. In the darkness, he glimpsed two boys whom he had tangled with previously. They were in Hitler Youth uniforms, laughing and joking about what had happened.

“We really showed those Jews,” he heard one say. “It’s good we got rid of a few.” Fearing the worst, he ran home and found his mother, Rosa, sitting despondently at the kitchen table with his aunts. “What happened?” he asked. In an anguished torrent, they told him of the horrors that had occurred that morning.

Shortly after my father had left the house that morning, uniformed SA Brownshirts banged on the door, forcing their way into the family home. Yelling that they had come for the “traitorous Jews,” the Nazis hustled my father’s father, age 66, out into the street. They did the same to the ten other Jewish men still remaining in Ihringen, including my father’s uncles – Marx, Hermann and Benjamin, all also in their sixties. During World War I, some of them had served with distinction in the German Army, with Philip receiving an Iron Cross for valor. Now, at gunpoint, they were marched in front of the synagogue where SA men were positioned.

The locals, in the midst of their morning routine, gathered and listened to the SA commander announce over a bullhorn that “at long last the Jewish traitors will get what they deserve.” The Jewish men were forced to strip down to their underwear and stood humiliated as the Nazis mocked them. Neighbors, who in former times had been friendly to Philip and even sought him out for advice, looked away guiltily. Those who were younger and had been reared during the Nazi years laughed openly, relishing the spectacle. The village’s several fire-department water trucks were situated at the scene.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Kristallnacht: A Family Recollection

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Ed Lion
Lessons-Emunah-logo

As his bomber lost altitude with the ground rushing up, my father remembered his last thought: “How am I going to get out of this?

Front-Page-110813

Seventy-five years ago on November 10 the Nazis unleashed a wave of terror, destruction and death known as Kristallnacht upon Germany’s Jews, a fearsome presage of the Holocaust. On that day, the childhood of my then-12-year-old father, Kurt Lion, of blessed memory, was abruptly and savagely ended.

Forty years ago this week, Jews the world over watched in agony as Arab terrorists kidnapped and eventually massacred eleven Israeli Olympic athletes. The International Olympic Committee, bowing to Arab pressure, has repeatedly refused these Israelis a proper commemoration. But we as Jews ought to pay them the tribute of remembering their individual lives, deeds, and accomplishments.

Half a century ago in May, Israel hanged Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann for overseeing Germany’s extermination of six million European Jews, fully one-third of the world’s prewar Jewish population. The murder of the six million staggers the mind. Such a vast breadth of our people, each of them with his own individual dreams, loves and aspirations, exterminated.

Judaism holds that nothing happens by chance, that everything is orchestrated by Hashem. And so it was long ago on a Sunday morning, about a month after Pesach when my father ran an errand for his parents.

This is the story of two Hungarian Jews and their diametrically opposed responses to the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. The reactions and their consequences for Israel and the Jewish people to this day bear examination.

Seventy years ago this autumn, the Nazis rounded up my father, grandparents and some 6,000 other Jews, shipping them from southwest Germany to the Gurs internment camp in southern France.

This past Yom Kippur, my father, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, surprised our family by recounting a wartime Kol Nidre observance that stirred his soul.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/kristallnacht-a-family-recollection/2013/11/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: