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Yad Vashem Marks 80 Years since the Kristallnacht Pogrom

Personal Stories and Artifacts from Kristallnacht Featured in Yad Vashem's New Exhibition "It Came from Within"

02 November 2018

The infamous Kristallnacht pogrom on 9-10 November 1938 was a pivotal event in the lead up to the Holocaust. In a few short hours, mobs across Germany and Austria swept through Jewish communities leaving in their wake devastation and death. As Holocaust survivor and historian Prof. Zvi Bacharach z"l testified: "German Jewry was so much a part of German society that the Nazi blow hit it from within. Until 1938, my parents never thought of leaving Germany."

Eighty years after the Kristallnacht pogrom, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will upload a new online exhibition entitled "It Came from Within", and will also host three commemorative events.

Lore Mayerfeld (née Stern) was born in 1936 in the city of Marburg, Germany. In 1938, her father, Markus Stern, was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. On the evening of 9 November 1938, the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom broke out. In just a few hours, antisemitic mobs broke into and vandalized Jewish homes and businesses across Germany and Austria. During the pogrom, 91 Jews were murdered, more than 1,400 synagogues across Germany and Austria were torched, and Jewish-owned shops and businesses were plundered and destroyed. In addition, the Jews were forced to pay “compensation” for the damage that had been caused. Approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps many of who never returned home.

During the pogrom, non-Jewish neighbors offered to hide Marcus's wife Kaetchen and their infant Lore in their house, to protect them from the anti-Jewish violence raging in the town. Lore, already in pajamas, hid with her mother at the neighbors' until the pogrom was over. When they returned home, they found that their house had been destroyed, forcing them to move in with Kaetchen's mother, Lena Kahnlein-Stern. Markus was released six weeks later from Buchenwald, thanks to a US visa he possessed, on the condition that he leave Germany right away.

After arriving in the US, Markus immediately set about getting his wife and daughter out of Germany. Eighteen months later, Kaetchen and Lore finally obtained US visas. In August 1941, they sailed from Portugal on the Mouzinho. Lore took Inge, the doll she had received for her birthday from her grandmother Lena, with her on her voyage. She dressed Inge in the pajamas she had worn the night of Kristallnacht. On 9 September, the ship reached New York, and the Stern family were finally reunited. Many members of Lore's family who remained in Germany were murdered during the Holocaust.

Throughout the years, Lore kept Inge close to her. Even when she became a mother, she would not let her children play with the doll – which represented the life Lore left behind in Germany. In 2018, she donated Inge, as well as personal letters and documents, to Yad Vashem for posterity as part of the "Gathering the Fragments" project to rescue Holocaust-related personal items from being lost forever.

Lore's story is one of the personal accounts featured in Yad Vashem's new online exhibition marking 80 years since the Kristallnacht pogrom – "It Came from Within" All eleven stories featured in the exhibition represent a microcosm of the shocking experiences of the German and Austrian Jewish community that terrible night. Through the use of personal testimonies, stories, documents, photographs and artifacts the exhibition depicts the brutal blow suffered by the Jews during the Kristallnacht pogrom: the physical violence, the property damage, the synagogue desecration and destruction, and the horrifying sight of holy books and Torah scrolls in flames. The precious artifacts featured in the exhibition provide a window into the lives of those who experienced the events of 9 November 1938, and give a glimpse of German and Austrian Jewry before WWII. Some of the stories displayed are being told for the first time.

Yad Vashem will be hosting a series of events marking the 80th anniversary of the November pogrom, "Kristallnacht":

Monday, 5 November 2018 the International Institute for Holocaust Research will be conducting a day symposium entitled "The Voices of the Time: Commemorating 80 Years for the Kristallnacht Pogrom". The event will begin at 9:30 and take place in the Constantiner Lecture Hall of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem and will be conducted in Hebrew and English.  Click here for a complete program of this event.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 18:30, Yad Vashem will host a special screening of the award-winning film The Invisibles, directed by Claus Räfle. The event will also include a lecture by Naama Galil of Yad Vashem's Commemoration and Community Relations Division on the topic, "Shattered Hope: Kristallnacht from the Perspective of Germany Jewry."

Thursday, 8 November 2018 at 9:30, Yad Vashem will host a joint event with the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin, which will include a memorial ceremony in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance and a program in the Auditorium. The program will include greetings from Association Chairman David Boaz and a lecture by Yad Vashem Researcher and Online Content Coordinator Yona Kobo, who will present the new online exhibition marking the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, "It Came from Within."