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Friday, November 7, 2008

Kristallnacht (Nov 11, 1938)

Nazis Smash, Loot and Burn Jewish Shops and Temples Until Goebbels Calls Halt*

New York Times
November 11, 1938 [1]

All Vienna’s Synagogues Attacked, Fires and Bombs Wreck 18 or 21

Jews Are Beaten, Furniture and Goods Flung From Homes and Shops – 15,000 Are Jailed During Day – 20 Are Suicides

Vienna, Nov. 10−In a surge of revenge for the murder of a German diplomat in Paris by a young Polish Jew, all Vienna’s twenty-one synagogues were attacked today and eighteen were wholly or partially destroyed by fires and bomb explosions.

Anti-Jewish activities under the direction of Storm Troopers and Nazi party members in uniform began early this morning. In the earlier stages Jews were attacked and beaten. Many Jews awaiting admittance to the British Consulate-General were arrested, and according to reliable reports others who stood in the line before the United States Consulate were severely beaten and also arrested.

Apartments were raided and searched and gradually some 15,000 arrested Jews were assembled at police stations. Some were released during the day. Tonight arrests were continuing.

Many of those arrested were sent to concentration camps in buses. Mobs of raiders penetrated Jewish residences and shops, flinging furniture and merchandise from windows and destroying wantonly.

In their panic and misery about fifty Jews, men and women, were reported to have attempted suicide-about twenty succeeded.

Scores of bombs were placed in synagogues, blowing out windows and in many cases damaging walls. Floors that had been soaked with kerosene readily caught fire…

At 9 A.M. the first fires broke out in the Hernaiser and Heitzinger synagogues. The Heitzinger synagogue, which was in Moorish style and was the largest and finest synagogue in Vienna, was gutted…

Excesses in Many Cities

Berlin papers also mention many cities and towns in which anti-Jewish excesses occurred, including Potsdam, Stettin, Frankfort on the Main, Leipzig, Lübeck, Cologne, Nuremberg, Essen, Dusseldorf, Konstanz, Landsberg, Kottbus and Eberswalde. In most of them, it is reported, synagogues were raided and burned and shops were demolished. But in general the press follows the system in reporting only local excesses so as to disguise the national extent of the outbreak, the full spread of which probably never will be known.

On the other hand, the German press already warns the world if the day’s events lead to another agitation campaign against Germany “the improvised and spontaneous outbreaks of today will be replaced with even more drastic authoritative action”. No doubt is left that the contemplated “authoritative actions” would have a retaliatory character.

Says the Angriff, Dr. Goebbel’s organ: “For every suffering, every crime and every injury that this criminal [the Jewish community] inflicts on a German anywhere, every individual Jew will be held responsible. All Judah wants is war with us and it can have this war according to its own moral law: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.

One of the first legal measures issued was an order by Heinrich Himmler, commander of all German police, forbidding Jews to possess any weapons whatever and imposing a penalty of twenty years confinement in a concentration camp upon every Jew found in possession of a weapon hereafter.

The dropping of all pretense in the outbreak is also illustrated by the fact that although shops and synagogues were wrecked or burned by so-called Rollkommandos, or wrecking crews, dressed in what the Nazis themselves call “Räuberzivil”, or “bandit mufti”, consisting of leather coats or raincoats over uniform boots or trousers, these squads often performed their work in the presence and under the protection of uniformed Nazis or police.

The wrecking work was thoroughly organized, sometimes proceeding under the direct orders of a controlling person in the street at whose command the wreckers ceased, line up and proceeded to another place…

Crowds Mostly Silent

Generally the crowds were silent and the majority seemed gravely disturbed by the proceedings. Only members of the wrecking squads shouted occasionally, “Perish Jewry!” and “Kill the Jews” and in one case a person in the crowd shouted, “Why not hang the owner in the window?”

In one case on the Kurfürstendamm actual violence was observed by an American girl who saw one Jew with his face bandaged dragged from a shop, beaten and chased by a crowd while a second Jew was dragged from the same shop by a single man who beat him as the crowd looked on.

One Jewish shopkeeper, arriving at his wrecked store, exclaimed, “Terrible”, and was arrested on the spot.

In some cases on the other hand crowds were observed making passages for Jews to leave their stores unmolested.

Some persons in the crowds-peculiarly enough, mostly women-expressed the view that it was only right that the Jews should suffer what the Germans suffered in 1918.

* Note how the headline makes it sound like the German government stopped the riot, when it actually started it.

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