web analytics
August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Kristallnacht: A Family Recollection

By:
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.

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.

About the Author: Ed Lion is a former reporter for United Press International now living in the Poconos.


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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Kristallnacht: A Family Recollection

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iranian oil tanker (file photo).
Iran Banks on End to Sanctions, Will Raise Oil Production to 1M bpd
Latest Indepth Stories
Jonathan Pollard.

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Inside of the home burned in the Prce Tag attack in the village of Duma.

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

More Articles from Ed Lion
Eli Cohen

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

Lion-052215

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

Each craved more out life and within a few months they’d mastered English, received their high school equivalencies, and begun climbing the rungs of the ladder of the American Dream.

Anti-Semitism today focuses on Israel and the quest to delegitimize it.

“These are good matzah balls,” my aunt Robertine would say, but her sister Irma would counter “No, not compared to Mama’s. They were always so light yet they never fell apart.”

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

The risks were great, but certain death awaited them if they remained. The gamble paid off, though the family was separated for the next four years of the war.

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: