Night of Terror Stretched Throughout Third Reich 50 Years Ago With AM-Kristallnacht-50 Years, Bjt
BERLIN (AP) _ Adolf Hitler and his henchmen had for years been targeting Jews for persecution, trying to force them out of the Third Reich. By November 1938, they were looking for an excuse to crack down more savagely.
They found it when Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Jew enraged by his family’s deportation to Poland, shot and mortally wounded German Embassy Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath in Paris on Nov. 7, 1938.
Nazi leaders, in Teleptyped orders sent to local party heads throughout the Reich, demanded brutal reprisals. In the Nazi capital alone, seven main synagogues were burned in the hours of ransacking and wanton violence.
Here are brief descriptions of some of what happened in just nine of the hundreds of other towns and cities where Nazi thugs ransacked Jewish homes and businesses and burned synagogues on the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938.
LEIPZIG: Hammers, axes, crowbars and firebombs are the preferred attack weapons in this once-proud city. Firebombs hit three synagogues at once. Mobs attack poor and rich Jews. One member of the mob rams a stick through a priceless medieval painting depicting a Biblical scene. Wives and mothers of men dragged off to concentration camps desperately seek help at the U.S. consulate.
OBER-ERLENBACH: Mobs destroy the small variety store owned by the Jordans, the last Jewish family in this town north of Frankfurt. Someone tries to burn down the store, but a roofer stops him.
DUESSELDORF: Nazi storm troopers push their way into the apartment of Rabbi Max Eschelbacher chanting, ″Revenge for Paris. Down with the Jews.″
″There were many dead. It was a pogrom,″ the rabbi said later.
BADEN-BADEN: Jews are rounded up at 7 a.m. on Nov. 10, to lessen disruptions for foreign guests still visiting the world famous spa.
Nazi SS officers order the Jewish men to march two by two through the city behind a huge Star of David. Some local residents jeer as they go by.
The Jews are shoved into the synagogue, where they are forced to read aloud passages of Adolf Hitler’s viciously anti-Semitic work ″Mein Kampf.″
Later, as they are about to be forced onto buses for the trip to Dachau concentration camp, the men hear the fateful words, ″Our beautiful house of worship is in flames.″ Huge flames burst from the stone building.
LESUM: Mayor Fritz Koester listens incredulously to the local Nazi leader’s voice barking orders to him on the other end of the telephone: ″All-out alarm of the SA in all of Germany 3/8 Reprisal actions for the death of vom Rath. When evening comes, there can’t be any more Jews living in Germany. Jewish businesses also must be destroyed.″
Koester responds, ″Yes, but what’s supposed to happen to the Jews?″
The answer rings in his ear as he sits in this northern German town: ″Destroy, Herr Buergermeister, destroy 3/8″
WROCLAW: Mobs burn the main synagogue along the Olawa river. Nazi-mandated labels on storefront windows identifying which businesses are Jewish-owned makes it easy for club-wielding thugs to find their targets. Wroclaw, known as Breslau when it belonged to Germany, was turned over to Poland at the end of World War II.
ZEVEN: Gangs rip fixtures from the local synagogue in this town near Bremen and pile them three feet outside with a sign saying ″Revenge for the Death of Vom Rath.″
ESSLINGEN: Gangs break into a Jewish orphanage with axes, screaming, ″Get out 3/8″ Prayer books and other holy writings are tossed from windows. They threaten to burn the children to death.
VIENNA: Twenty-one synagogues and 68 other Jewish sites are entirely or heavily damaged. Homes are ransacked.
Information for the above came from various sources, including history books and contemporary accounts. A major source was the book ″La Nuit de Cristal,″ a comprehesive work on the subject by Paris University professor Rita Thalmann.