Buehl is a town in the state of Baden, Germany. In 1933 there were approximately 70 Jews in Buehl, who made up about 1% of the town’s population. Persecution against the Jews began immediately after the Nazi rise to power. The town’s residents gradually broke off all social and economic contacts with the Jews. In 1935 the Torah scrolls in the town were desecrated, and the Jews were gradually forced to liquidate their businesses.
On Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, the town’s synagogue went up in flames and Jewish stores were vandalized. By 1940 21 Jews had emigrated from the town and 13 others left for different cities in Germany. On October 22, 1940, 28 Jews were deported from Buehl to Gurs Concentration Camp in southwestern France, bringing an end to the Jewish community in Buehl. The majority of Buehl’s deported Jews perished in the Holocaust, either in Gurs or after their deportation to the camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.
The archival footage was discovered a few years ago in the attic of one of the residents in Buehl. The footage was taken by a firefighter who shot films for a hobby. He took the footage in order to capture his friends during their work. The firefighters were prepared to put out the flames to ensure that the fire would not spread to the neighboring homes next to the synagogue.
Members of the SS or SA appear in the film, apparently having come from a different town. This signifies that the riots did not break out spontaneously, as the Germans claimed, but were organized by the authorities, which sent people from other areas to oversee the events.
Among all the films that document the destruction of synagogues on Kristallnacht, the footage from Buehl is one of the few films not produced by the Propaganda Ministry of the Nazi regime.
Courtesy of Stadtgeschichtliches Institut Bühl