Are New ‘Kristallnachts’ Coming?

 

In these days of worldwide anti-Semitic demonstrations, I am reminded of a person with whom I became friends while living at a retirement community here in Oregon. This lady, whom I will call Esther (not her real name), was a Jewish refugee who came to the United States in the 1940s. This is her story as she told it to me. It is a demonstration of what can happen when the anti-Semites gain control of a society.

She was born in 1925 in the small German town (population about 30,000) of Suhl, in the Thüringen Mountains about 50 miles southwest of Berlin. Esther was the only child of Alfred and Elise, and her father was the general manager of a large department store.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany and began programs to eliminate the Jewish citizens, Alfred was dismissed from his job and forced into the German Jewish population of the unemployed and unemployable. Esther and her family were able to remain in their home until 1939, when the home was confiscated, and Alfred and Elise were arrested and transported with other Jews of Suhl to a holding camp near Berlin.

Before their arrest, her parents found a place for the 14-year-old Esther in the household of an influential Rabbi (his wife was a member of the German nobility, Ester thinks). Her place with the Rabbi’s family was not that of a guest, though, but of a servant. The Rabbi and his invalid wife had a large home with spacious grounds and included a building that housed their large collection of exotic chickens from all over the world. As the sole household staff, Esther’s duties included caring for the chickens, the grounds, the housekeeping, cooking, and tending to the bedridden wife – all by a young girl accustomed to the privileges of an only child in a prosperous household. She remembered this time, in part, as one of never getting enough sleep and always being very tired.

From the time of her parents’ arrest in the middle of the night, Esther never learned of their fate. For a time, the Nazi propaganda machine maintained the fiction that arrested Jews were merely being “relocated” to lands to the east (conquered Poland) where they would be settled and allowed to resume normal lives. She lived in the hope that she and her parents would reunite any day.

To his great credit, the Rabbi worked diligently for nearly three years to obtain an exit visa and an entry permit that would allow Esther to leave Germany for America. After many false starts and failed attempts, Esther was finally notified to report to a local office to receive her exit visa. She arrived outside the government office early in the morning of the appointed day and joined a large crowd waiting on the sidewalk. Finally, late in the afternoon, after waiting all day with no movement, the crowd was notified that they should return the next day. This waiting was repeated for two more days before Esther finally returned home with a visa to leave Germany. After more effort, the Rabbi was able to locate a Jewish family in New York who would sponsor Esther and pay her fare. The Rabbi did all this, spending the influence he had within the Nazi hierarchy through his wife’s family, even though without Esther, he would have no household help or assistance in caring for his wife.

The now 17-year-old Esther, speaking no language other than German, traveled third-class on a steamship during wartime to New York to meet a family who would hold her fate in their hands. During the journey, Esther was tormented by the thought that her parents could not locate her to join them in their new home in the East. She was met at the dockside in New York and taken to the apartment home of a large, three-generation family and learned that she would be expected to work as a maid for another family in the city. She was given her own bedroom in the sponsors’ crowded apartment, but the grandfather was in the habit of wandering about in the nude. Esther said she didn’t get much sleep for fear he would come into her room.

She had been given the address of a relative of her mother who lived in Iowa, so in desperation, Esther wrote to this cousin asking her to send her train fare so she could leave New York. About a month after landing in New York, she found herself traveling cross-country to visit a relative whom she had never met and with whom she had not even a common language. The cousin’s family didn’t have a lot to share, but they did provide Esther with a place to live and helped her find work. They also knew an older Jewish businessman who was looking for a wife. Arrangements were soon made for a wedding that Esther described as a ‘business agreement’ that had nothing to do with romance.

The couple made a home in Iowa and raised a son and daughter. Esther, who still had difficulty with the English language when I knew her, told me very little about her married life other than that she was a widow, her son became a physician in the Midwest and her daughter, from whom she was largely estranged, lived in Oregon.

Even though Esther, who was 90 when I met her, had a life of extreme hardship and heartbreaking disappointments. Still, she was a very positive, generous person who was always eager to help others and was possessed of a remarkable sense of humor. She did not have a “victim” mentality, but did tell me that her one regret in life was never having been able to learn the fate of her parents.

I had read of the remarkable work the American Holocaust Memorial Museum does in tracking individual victims of the Holocaust, so I volunteered to contact them to see if they could provide information on the fate of Esther’s parents. Esther agreed, and gave me her parent’s places and dates of birth, which I gave to the Museum. After a few exchanges, they provided me with photocopies of the actual German records of the transport and final disposition of Esther’s parents. By the time I received this information, Esther had moved to a nearby assisted living facility.

With the documents in hand, and taking along a mutual friend for moral support, I visited Esther and asked if she was sure she wished to know about her parents, knowing that the information would be distressing. She insisted that she did want to know, so I gave her the awful truth: When they were arrested, they were taken to a camp near Berlin, where they remained together for about one year. They were then separated, and Elise was sent to the “killing fields” of Lithuania and immediately murdered. Alfred was in the Berlin camp for an additional year and was then also sent east to the “killing fields” and murdered.

I gave Esther the documents I had obtained, and my friend and I did what we could to comfort her in her tears and distress. Esther thanked us and left the room. When I attempted to visit her later, she refused to speak to me except to say, regarding the information I had given her, “My son could have done that!” I’m still not sure if she was dismissing my efforts or if she was mourning the fact that her son, the doctor, hadn’t obtained the information for her years earlier. I never saw Esther again.

“Esther” lives in my memory as a noble exemplar of the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the traumatic events she had gone through, she remained a positive, generous-spirited, and fun-loving person … who still played a mean game of Yahtzee.

I see on today’s news that last night in Paris, there were widespread instances of people painting Stars of David on their neighbors’ storefronts and homes. Are we headed for more “Kristallnachts?”

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Yes, but my point was that if conditions were as terrible as the Hamas supporters have made them out to be, they wouldn’t be there.

    Who is the “they” you’re referring to? Many Gazans have been there a long time; some of them were there before the 1948 war and stayed through the war.

    I was referring to the American citizens who could easily leave. 

    • #31
  2. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    such immigrants would, in theory have someplace to go back to (Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan etc.)

    Not just in theory: Many of these immigrants maintain strong connections in the countries they came from, traveling back and forth and even maintaining homes there.

    That is true. Last time I checked, there were 600 U.S. citizens in Gaza. Why were they there if conditions were so terrible? If they were “imprisoned,” unable to move in and out of an “occupied” country?

    Before the larger-scale Israeli retribution began, I saw some YouTube videos pop up of American (raised, at least) people in Gaza complaining about lack of water, they didn’t seem to be captives.

    Lots of NGO’s in Gaza, I’m sure.

    These seemed to be more “Walden Pond” types, if I’m capturing the mood properly.  Or in Star Trek-ese, the “Space Hippies.”  Looking for the simple life in “Eden,” boy did THEY make a wrong turn somewhere!

    • #32
  3. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I assume that Zafar is talking about an anti-Muslim Kristallnacht/Holocaust.

    I don’t think it’s likely, but it isn’t impossible.

    I think it’s extremely unlikely.  No significant part of Western society is there in the way it was in Germany in the 1930s.

    However.  In the US did an old man go out and stab his Jewish tenants (killing the child) because he was hearing smack about Jews from his news sources?  Or did an old man goout and stab his Muslim tenants (killing the child) because he was hearing smack about Muslims from his news sources?

    This doesn’t mean that a Muslim Kristallnacht is upon is – but it is illustrative of the power of words, and  about which groups the media feels it needs to use words wisely and which groups it doesn’t feel that way at all.

     

     

    • #33
  4. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Zafar (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I assume that Zafar is talking about an anti-Muslim Kristallnacht/Holocaust.

    I don’t think it’s likely, but it isn’t impossible.

    I think it’s extremely unlikely. No significant part of Western society is there in the way it was in Germany in the 1930s.

    However. In the US did an old man go out and stab his Jewish tenants (killing the child) because he was hearing smack about Jews from his news sources? Or did an old man goout and stab his Muslim tenants (killing the child) because he was hearing smack about Muslims from his news sources?

    This doesn’t mean that a Muslim Kristallnacht is upon is – but it is illustrative of the power of words, and about which groups the media feels it needs to use words wisely and which groups it doesn’t feel that way at all.

     

     

    I believe the moral code of our mainstream media can be summed up in two words: “Clicks” and “Views.”

    • #34
  5. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I assume that Zafar is talking about an anti-Muslim Kristallnacht/Holocaust.

    I don’t think it’s likely, but it isn’t impossible.

    I think it’s extremely unlikely. No significant part of Western society is there in the way it was in Germany in the 1930s.

    However. In the US did an old man go out and stab his Jewish tenants (killing the child) because he was hearing smack about Jews from his news sources? Or did an old man goout and stab his Muslim tenants (killing the child) because he was hearing smack about Muslims from his news sources?

    This doesn’t mean that a Muslim Kristallnacht is upon is – but it is illustrative of the power of words, and about which groups the media feels it needs to use words wisely and which groups it doesn’t feel that way at all.

    I believe the moral code of our mainstream media can be summed up in two words: “Clicks” and “Views.”

    Fair call.  I’d broaden it from just the media, however:

     

    • #35
  6. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell: The now 17-year-old Esther, speaking no language other than German, traveled third-class on a steamship during wartime to New York to meet a family who would hold her fate in their hands.

    Jim McConnell: She had been given the address of a relative of her mother who lived in Iowa, so in desperation, Esther wrote to this cousin asking her to send her train fare so she could leave New York. About a month after landing in New York, she found herself traveling cross-country to visit a relative whom she had never met and with whom she had not even a common language.

    Having myself lived a very comfortable life in the United States, it has always been hard for me to imagine being driven to take the risks of a perilous journeys to a new place and culture, as you have related Esther did. I had in my younger days mostly heard such stories from people who left communism, which cemented my negative views of communism. So thank you for also bringing in a Jewish experience.

    I do not know enough to comment on the current experience of European Jews.

    In most of continental Europe, Jewish institutions – including schools- require constant armed protection. Angela Merkel made this very point a couple of years ago. France is probably worst. The threat has increased in line with increases in Muslim immigration- of that there is no doubt. 

    • #36
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Charles Mark (View Comment):
    In most of continental Europe, Jewish institutions – including schools- require constant armed protection. Angela Merkel made this very point a couple of years ago. France is probably worst. The threat has increased in line with increases in Muslim immigration- of that there is no doubt. 

    I always appreciate when you weigh in, Charles, so that we get the European perspective. Pretty dark.

    • #37
  8. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    But can Europe afford to stop importing muslims?  Who else are they going to get to replace the babies they can’t be bothered to have?

    • #38
  9. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell: The now 17-year-old Esther, speaking no language other than German, traveled third-class on a steamship during wartime to New York to meet a family who would hold her fate in their hands.

    Jim McConnell: She had been given the address of a relative of her mother who lived in Iowa, so in desperation, Esther wrote to this cousin asking her to send her train fare so she could leave New York. About a month after landing in New York, she found herself traveling cross-country to visit a relative whom she had never met and with whom she had not even a common language.

    Having myself lived a very comfortable life in the United States, it has always been hard for me to imagine being driven to take the risks of a perilous journeys to a new place and culture, as you have related Esther did. I had in my younger days mostly heard such stories from people who left communism, which cemented my negative views of communism. So thank you for also bringing in a Jewish experience.

    I do not know enough to comment on the current experience of European Jews.

    In most of continental Europe, Jewish institutions – including schools- require constant armed protection. Angela Merkel made this very point a couple of years ago. France is probably worst. The threat has increased in line with increases in Muslim immigration- of that there is no doubt.

    Muslim institutions, on the other hand, do not need such protection.

    • #39
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But can Europe afford to stop importing muslims? Who else are they going to get to replace the babies they can’t be bothered to have?

    There are a lot of poor countries that are not majority Muslim and which have large populations.

    • #40
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Zafar (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    But can Europe afford to stop importing muslims? Who else are they going to get to replace the babies they can’t be bothered to have?

    There are a lot of poor countries that are not majority Muslim and which have large populations.

    Somehow the muslims are more convenient, it seems.  Maybe just closer.  And maybe their people are more eager to leave their sh!th0le countries so they can start to create new sh!th0les somewhere else.

    • #41
  12. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    such immigrants would, in theory have someplace to go back to (Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan etc.)

    Not just in theory: Many of these immigrants maintain strong connections in the countries they came from, traveling back and forth and even maintaining homes there.

    That is true. Last time I checked, there were 600 U.S. citizens in Gaza. Why were they there if conditions were so terrible? If they were “imprisoned,” unable to move in and out of an “occupied” country?

    Nearly all are “river-sea” Gazan-Americans. 

    • #42
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Somehow the muslims are more convenient, it seems.  Maybe just closer.  And maybe their people are more eager to leave their sh!th0le countries so they can start to create new sh!th0les somewhere else.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as a sh!thole country. 

    • #43
  14. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Charles Mark (View Comment):
    In most of continental Europe, Jewish institutions – including schools- require constant armed protection. Angela Merkel made this very point a couple of years ago. France is probably worst. The threat has increased in line with increases in Muslim immigration- of that there is no doubt.

    I always appreciate when you weigh in, Charles, so that we get the European perspective. Pretty dark.

    I should acknowledge that decades before mass immigration of Muslims, Europeans committed crimes against Jews that are unparalleled in history. 

    • #44
  15. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Somehow the muslims are more convenient, it seems. Maybe just closer. And maybe their people are more eager to leave their sh!th0le countries so they can start to create new sh!th0les somewhere else.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as a sh!thole country.

    Welcome to Haiti!

    • #45
  16. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Back in the day, I called the summer of riots in 2020, the Summer of Kristallnacht. I marveled at the effentcy of the Germans, who where able to get it all done in one night, while it took Americans more than 100.

    Its deeply worrisome to me, that in even polite countries, like Australia and Canada, Hamas supporters can gather large crowds of the profoundly stupid to chant “Gas the Jews” and other vile crap…

    I wonder if someone got a megaphone at one of these rallies and started a chant based on the LumberJack Song? Just for the LoLz…

    • #46
  17. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Back in the day, I called the summer of riots in 2020, the Summer of Kristallnacht. I marveled at the effentcy of the Germans, who where able to get it all done in one night, while it took Americans more than 100.

    Its deeply worrisome to me, that in even polite countries, like Australia and Canada, Hamas supporters can gather large crowds of the profoundly stupid to chant “Gas the Jews” and other vile crap…

    I wonder if someone got a megaphone at one of these rallies and started a chant based on the LumberJack Song? Just for the LoLz…

    Some Jewish kids did infiltrate one of the recent pro-Hamas marches and got the ignoramuses chanting some Hebrew words which mocked the marchers.

    • #47
  18. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Back in the day, I called the summer of riots in 2020, the Summer of Kristallnacht. I marveled at the effentcy of the Germans, who where able to get it all done in one night, while it took Americans more than 100.

    Its deeply worrisome to me, that in even polite countries, like Australia and Canada, Hamas supporters can gather large crowds of the profoundly stupid to chant “Gas the Jews” and other vile crap…

    I wonder if someone got a megaphone at one of these rallies and started a chant based on the LumberJack Song? Just for the LoLz…

    Some Jewish kids did infiltrate one of the recent pro-Hamas marches and got the ignoramuses chanting some Hebrew words which mocked the marchers.

    Those have got to be recorded and posted to social media.  It would be even better to teach some PLO flag carrying protestors a few phrases in Arabic that critique the HAMAS invasion.  This would be great to share with an international audience.  

    • #48
  19. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Back in the day, I called the summer of riots in 2020, the Summer of Kristallnacht. I marveled at the effentcy of the Germans, who where able to get it all done in one night, while it took Americans more than 100.

    Its deeply worrisome to me, that in even polite countries, like Australia and Canada, Hamas supporters can gather large crowds of the profoundly stupid to chant “Gas the Jews” and other vile crap…

    I wonder if someone got a megaphone at one of these rallies and started a chant based on the LumberJack Song? Just for the LoLz…

    Some Jewish kids did infiltrate one of the recent pro-Hamas marches and got the ignoramuses chanting some Hebrew words which mocked the marchers.

    Those have got to be recorded and posted to social media. It would be even better to teach some PLO flag carrying protestors a few phrases in Arabic that critique the HAMAS invasion. This would be great to share with an international audience.

    I did see a video clip somewhere, but failed to save the link. Sorry.

    • #49
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