The Jewish Orphanage in Dinslaken
At 9:30 AM on 10 November 1938, some fifty rioters arrived at the Jewish orphanage in Dinslaken and started vandalizing and destroying the place. There were 32 children and 15 members of staff at the orphanage that day.
In 1913, Dr. Leopold Rothschild moved from Halberstadt to Dinslaken, Germany with his family, to run the Jewish orphanage there. Leopold's son Pinchas was six years old at the time. "We were a kind of extended family. We lived together with all the children of the orphanage," Dr. Pinchas Rothschild later recalled
Prayers were conducted every morning, which were attended by the children, their educators and Jews in the city. Leopold taught Talmud, and children from outside the orphanage joined these lessons too. The orphanage became a religious and spiritual hub. There was a large courtyard, garden and orchard behind the building, and children from Dinslaken would come there to learn and play.
The economic crisis of the late 1920s and the rise of the Nazis to power led to an influx of children who were not orphans, but whose parents were undergoing personal or financial hardships. In 1934, 8-year-old Baruch-Benno Tor (Turteltaub) arrived at the orphanage together with his two brothers, Yosef and Meir-Max. His mother Leah had been hospitalized and his father Yitzhak remained in their home in Dortmund with Baruch's older sister Rozi. Baruch remembers the orphanage in Dinslaken as being a warm, home-like place where the children were treated well.
Yitzhak S. Herz, a teacher at the children's home and its director from September 1938, documented the events of that period, and described the events of 10 November in great details. On that day 32 children were staying at the orphanage.
On the morning of 10 November 1938, a policeman and two Gestapo agents arrived at the home looking for items of value. The policeman told Herz about the unrest in the city, and one of the Gestapo men ordered Herz to ensure that no one left the home before 10:00 AM.
At 09:30 AM, some fifty rabble-rousers arrived at the children's home and started to vandalize it. Windows were smashed, furniture overturned and books and personal belongings strewn in every direction. Herz shouted to the children to run outside and asked the local police for assistance against the mob. The Dinslaken police captain informed him: "Jews do not get protection from us! Vacate the area together with your children as quickly as possible!" "The children" wrote Herz, "fled the house without hats or coats." The number of vandals rose into the hundreds. That morning, the Dinslaken synagogue and Jewish homes were set alight.
Baruch Tor was 12 at the time:
"We had just finished the morning prayers when we heard loud noises and screams. We ran outside to the courtyard. We heard the sound of things smashing. We listened in pain. It was raining. We stood there trembling… in the afternoon, they took us to some farm and put us in an abandoned cowshed with straw in the middle… They improvised something to eat… we were there for a few days… we slept on the straw.".
After being brutally evicted from their home and led on a humiliating procession through the city streets, Herz managed to transfer the children to Köln, and from there he arranged their immigration to Belgium and Holland. Herz himself left Germany in late July 1939 and reached Belfast. In 1940 he was sent to Australia and enlisted in the Australian army in 1942. Baruch Tor arrived in Holland in January 1939 together with his brother Meir-Max. Their older brother Yosef was studying in a Yeshivah in Frankfurt. Baruch was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. His parents, sister and brothers were all murdered.
As far as is known, about half of the children that were living at the orphanage at the time of Kristallnacht survived.