Choir Song Book from the Synagogue in Mannheim that Survived the Kristallnacht Pogrom
Avraham-Dov (Arthur) Kohn was the cantor at the orthodox Klaus Synagogue ("Klaussynagoge") in the city of Mannheim, Germany, and also taught Hebrew there. In the synagogue's male choir song book, Avraham wrote the sheet music for various songs, including "Lecha Dodi" (from the Sabbath Eve prayer service).
On Kristallnacht, the synagogue was set alight and went up in flames. Avraham was on his way to synagogue, but was warned to stay away. A short time later, he was arrested at home with the rest of his family. The family glassware was smashed and their belongings were confiscated. Their bookshelves were hurled into the street, and the whole family was forced to watch the books being burned. They were taken to the Mannheim police station. Avraham was sent to the Dachau camp, and never returned to the demolished synagogue. His wife Martha and their children Shmuel, Yosef and Chana were also arrested, but were released a short time later.
Martha made the applications for emigration from Germany. After ten days in Dachau, Avraham was released. He went straight to Hamburg, where he was reunited with his wife and children. Two days later, the Kohns boarded the Cap Arcona ship and sailed to Uruguay. They arrived in December 1938, and from there, made their way to Buenos Aires.
Shlomo Stein, a member of the Mannheim Jewish community and his brother Yosef, who both knew the Kohn family, salvaged Avraham's song book from the debris of the ruined synagogue. The Stein brothers immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) in 1939, and settled in Kibbutz Shluchot. The song book remained with them for some fifty years. In 1988, Shlomo Stein managed to make contact with relatives of Cantor Avraham Kohn who had immigrated to Israel in the 1950s, and the song book of sheet music rescued from the embers of the synagogue in Mannheim was returned to the Kohn family.
In Their Own Words
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.
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.