Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests.
Today we commemorate that 80 years ago on November 9, 1938
Kristallnacht in Germany took place.
A horible night for Jews living in Germany.
I do not need to tell you that on the night of November 9; 1400 synagogues were burned down and demolished.
That 7500 shops and businesses that belonged to Jews were destroyed.
I do not need to tell you that thousands of Jewish homes, schools, cemetries and hospitals were attacked.
That the fire department in Germany was ordered to stay in their barracks and that the police stood by and watched.
I don’t need to tell you that, the night of November 9, over 400 Jewish people were murdered.
No I don’t need to tell you more,
we all are fully aware of the facts and what happend that night.
When I was asked to speak about Kristalnacht today, I wanted to give you a kind of personal report.
So I called my friend Freddie Horowitz who is 8 years older than I and who is from German origin.
Freddie and his parents and little sister Lize lived in a small city in Germany.
They lived in a narrow little street, in fact more an alley than a street.
His father had a small bookshop, well known all over the city because of its antique books.
His fathers prize possession was a volume from the 16th century.
They lived in a tiny apartment above the shop.
So I asked Freddie to tell me about; what he remembered of that day and night.
He told me he did not want to talk about it, but he would write what he remembered.
So this is what Freddie wrote:
Yes I remember many things about that evening and that night.
Images are coming back during day-time but also in the night.
Especially now that I am old; I seem to remember more and more,
all little and most un-important things.
But apparently than, they made a big impression on me.
That November day; it had not been raining. For a change it was a crisp but chilly day.
One could feel; that it was close to cold winter days and maybe snow was coming.
Around 6 PM it was already very dark and the atmosphere in the city was depressing.
In our little street there were only two street lights, one at the beginning of the street and one at the end.
They gave just enough light so that people could see the cobble stones.
After dinner papa ordered Lize rather early to go to bed and he told me that I should go to bed at 8 ‘oclock.
I remember I protested because, being already 10 years of age, I should be allowed to stay up till at least 9 oclock.
As usual, papa seated himself after dinner
in his big leather chair and began to read the news paper.
I remember that he shook his head and put the paper aside.
He took a book and began reading. He often stroke his beard.
I remember that 4 years ago he stopped shaving and started to grow a beard.
Because being the owner of a bookshop that sold mainly antique books, he should have an intellectual image.
He figured the beard gave such an image.
My little bedroom was in the attic of the house.
It was very small, just enough space for my bed, a chair and a tiny table.
I only had a small window that gave me just enough view to see the rooftops of our neighbours houses.
The bedrooms of papa, mama and Lize were on the second floor.
They were also small, but I suppose comfortable.
My attick bedroom gave me privacy so that papa could not notice when I was reading in bed, which I was not allowed to do.
Far in the distance I heard a sound. It could well be shouting, singing or music.
I could not exactly determine what kind of a sound it was.
I did not pay much attention and did not worry about it.
Because sometimes you could hear drunk men shouting in the streets around the corner.
I had fallen asleep when shouting in our street woke me up.
Through my tiny window I tried to see what happend; but all I saw was darkness and glimpses of the neighbouring roofs.
I went downstairs meaning to wake up father and mother.
Father was already very much awake.
He said the brown shirts are again at it.
And we knew the meaning of these words.
Both we went to the window to see what happened in the street, but we couldn’t see anything.
Just heard shouting.
Father was dressed and he told me to dress too.
Meanwhile he went down the stairs to the shop.
When I entered the living room, now fully dressed I saw that also mama was dressed and stood in front of the window.
The shouting came closer to our house but still we couldn’t see any movement in the street.
Than suddenly we heard a loud scream an enormous row and glass breaking.
I will always remember my mother shouting:….. Freddie……. Freddie ……what is happening.
We heard men shouting downstairs in the shop.
Father did not answer to mothers calling.
I tried to go down, but mother pulled my shirt to stop me.
Half way the stairs I saw what was happening.
I shook mother off and ran to help my father who was held by two men in brown shirts.
Immediately I noticed that the shop window was broken and the shop door was hanging loosly in its hinges.
I noticed two other men in our shop holding books in their arms which they carried outside.
Father was struggling; but the two brown shirts were too strong.
I shouted to the two men, who were taking all our books: … stop…….. stop…… but they simply shoved me aside.
I saw that one man grabbed our 16th century volume and took that outside too.
Than they dragged father outside and I walked behind them.
All our books were thrown in one big pile of books and the 16th century volume was on top of it.
Father was struggling to escape from their hands, but he failed.
And I was standing in the almost empty shop.
Suddenly I saw flames coming out of the pile of books, father shouted with his soft voice:…. no…. no……please don’t burn my books.
But it was all in vain, the 4 brown shirst laughed and laughed and were patting my father on his shoulders.
As hard as possible so that he fell on his knees and I heard him crying.
The 4 men left the scene laughing and shouting ugly words which I do not wish to repeat.
Mother walked outside and together we tried to lift up father so that we could go to what was left of our shop.
But father was too heavy and he wanted to stay at the fire.
The shop floor was covered with glass from our big window , on the shelves the remainder of our stock of books.
I went outside to see if I could save some books, but unfortunately all books went up in flames.
I saw father still on his knees, crying, sobbing; asking to call for the police.
Mother again came outside and together we tried to lift up father.
I looked around for help and saw 2 police men watching.
When they noticed I was looking at them, they turned around and walked away.
One man came out of the group of bystanders and helped us to put father on his feet again and up the stairs to our apartment.
The next morning we heard a man shouting beneath the stairs in our shop.
It was one of the police men who had been watching the fire.
He ordered us to clean up the street from all the rubble.
Three days in a row this police man came back, because the street wasn’t clean enough according to him.
Well Max this is mainly what I remember of what happend during this terrible night of November 9 .
You know the rest of my life story, so I do not need to talk about this anymore.
Share my letter with your friends at the meeting, so that this will never be forgotten.
End of Freddie’s letter.!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Friends I want to tell you that Freddie’s father never go over the loss of his books and his Gutenberg bible.
He died while they were waiting for visa to leave Germany.
Freddie with his mother and sister Lize came in 1939 to Holland.
They survived in hiding.
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