Kristallnacht/ The November Pogrom: A Personal Story

Dr. Michael A. Meyer, the Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History at HUC/JIR Cincinnati shares the following thoughts in acknowledgement of Kristallnacht/ the November Pogrom:

On November 9, 1938, I was not yet a year old and living in Berlin with my parents and grandmother.  My mother used to wheel me around in a stroller, being careful not to sit on benches that were reserved for “Aryans.”  What I remember of that night is not from direct recall but from what I was later told.  Following what is now called by historians the “November Pogrom” rather that the earlier “Kristallnacht– which makes one think of a crystal chandelier–the Jews were required to pay for all of the damage to property that the Nazis had wrought on synagogues, Jewish stores, and homes, lest Gentile insurance companies should have to pay.  My grandfather, who had served in the German army, was one of the tens of thousands of Jewish men that were sent as hostages to concentration camps until the huge amount would be paid.  He was able to get out after a few weeks only because he and his wife had succeeded in getting a visa to Chile.  The Gestapo also came looking for my father, but he was tipped off and rode the Berlin subways for many hours until they gave up and left the apartment.  That pogrom was the first nationwide act of organized violence against the Jews of Germany.  Though few realized it at the time, it foreshadowed what was to come.


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