The November Pogrom (Kristallnacht): 9-10 November 1938

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    9-10 November 1938
    The November Pogrom
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    In just a few hours, 1400 synagogues were desecrated and set alight.
    Torah Scrolls were torched. Jewish shops and businesses were vandalized and looted.
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    Jews were viciously attacked and publicly humiliated. 30,000 Jewish men were summarily rounded up and sent to concentration camps. 91 Jews were murdered during the pogrom.


Walter Zwi Bacharach

That was the heart of the problem of German Jewry: It 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. "There's no way the Germans we live with will continue to do these things. It's only an episode." That was the atmosphere. It was also the atmosphere on Kristallnacht. They couldn't comprehend it. It came as a blow. I remember my mother standing pale and crying… I remember her phoning her gentile friends – she had more gentile friends than Jewish friends – No answer. No one answered her.

Excerpt from the testimony of historian and Holocaust survivor Prof. Zvi Bacharach, who was ten years old when the events of Kristallnacht unfolded in Hanau, Germany. 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 and approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

From Our Collections

This exhibition depicts the brutal blow suffered by the Jews on Kristallnacht: the physical violence, the property damage, the synagogue desecration and destruction, and the horrifying sight of holy books and Torah scrolls in flames.

Using photographs, documents, personal letters, Pages of Testimony, films, testimony excerpts, artifacts and works of art from Yad Vashem's collections, the events of Kristallnacht are portrayed here as seen through the eyes of the Jews of Germany and Austria who endured them. Some of the stories displayed here are being told for the first time.

In Their Own Words

Kristallnacht in a Small German Town

Marga Randall was born in Lemförde, Germany, in 1930. Marga’s father had a fatal heart attack upon hearing of his imminent arrest by the Nazis. Marga sought refuge with her mother’s family in the small town of Schermbeck, and after Kristallnacht Marga moved with her mother and sister to Berlin. They eventually immigrated to New York in 1941 via France, Spain and Portugal. In addition to establishing a family, Marga widely lectured on her experiences during the Holocaust, publishing her memoirs under the title Grandfather Didn’t Come Home. Marga Randall passed away in 2005.
Yad Vashem Archives O.3/6995

Kristallnacht in Kassel, Germany

Lore Mayerfield Stern, born in Marburg, Germany, talks about the Kristallnacht pogrom in Kassel, and how she and her mother hid in the home of their German neighbors to escape the violence and vandalism.

Kristallnacht in Mannheim, Germany

Shmuel Cohen, born in 1933 in Mannheim, Germany talks about the Kristallnacht pogrom and describes the burning of the Klaus Synagogue in Mannheim, the confiscation of his family's property, the burning of his father's books and his family's arrest and detainment at the police station.

Choir Song Book from the Klaus Synagogue in Mannheim

Yossi Cohen, born in 1935 in Mannheim, Germany, talks about his father's choir song book, which survived the Kristallnacht pogrom. His father, Avraham-Arthur Kohn, was a Hebrew teacher and served as the cantor at the Klaus Synagogue in Mannheim.

Kristallnacht in the City of Bühl

Ehud Loeb was born in Bühl, Germany, in 1934. On October 22, 1940, Ehud was deported with his parents to France on a transport carrying 6,508 Jews. After a few days they arrived in the Gurs Concentration Camp in southwestern France. Those who managed to survive in the camp were deported in 1942 to Auschwitz, including Ehud’s parents.

In 1941 permission was granted for the removal of children from the camp. The operation was carried out by the OSE organization, and children were allowed to leave the camp as long as parental consent had been granted and the children were enlisted either in churches or villages, so that the Gestapo would be able to locate them.

In August 1942 the Gestapo came searching for Ehud, and he was hidden amongst Christian families. Yad Vashem has recognized some of his rescuers as Righteous Among the Nations.
Yad Vashem Archives O.3/10574

Kristallnacht in the City of Würzburg

Holocaust survivors from Würzburg, Germany, describe their experiences in Würzburg during the period of Kristallnacht and its aftermath

Survivors' names: Herbert Mai, Ellen Miles, Sidney Reiter, Jack Lewin, Margo Reiser, John Franklin, Margot Kaiser

The video is part of the exhibition The History of the Jewish Community in Würzburg.

German-Jewish life on the Eve of WWII

Uri ben Ari was born in Berlin in 1925, and was eight years old when the Nazis rose to power. He fled from Germany in 1939 and settled in Israel. In addition to being a diplomat and a writer, he has filled numerous posts in the Israeli army.

Prof. Walter (Tzvi) Bacharach was born in Hanau, Germany, in 1928. During World War II, he was interned for almost 4 years in the Nazi camps of Westerbork, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Taucha, Hasag, and Buchenwald. Forced on a death march, he was eventually liberated by the Americans. He is Professor Emeritus of General History at Bar Ilan University.

Excerpt from: German-Jewish life on the Eve of WWII, 2005
Directed By: Reuven Hecker
Producers: Noemi Schory, Liat Benhabib, Liran Atzmor, Itai Ken-Tor
Production Company: Belfilms Ltd.

Kristallnacht in the City of Fulda

Arnold Goldschmidt was born in Fulda, Germany, in 1922. Arrested during Kristallnacht, he was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was subjected to a brutal regime of forced labor and beatings. Arnold was eventually released and returned to his hometown of Fulda. He was later sent on a children’s transport to Holland, where he lived in different children’s homes. Immigrating to the United States, he later enlisted in the US Army. Arnold Goldschmidt immigrated to Israel in 1966.
Yad Vashem Archives O.3/V.T/3246