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November 11, 1983 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-11-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

6 Friday, November 11, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

The Night of Broken Glass

RUTH SCHWARTZ, A.S.I.D.

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(Continued from Page 1)
weeping neighbor whose
husband had been taken
away — to who knows
where?
What could one say to her
that would not sound hol-
low? That everything would
be all right? Indeed, we
knew that everything was
far from all right. We knew
that a clear conscience and
an impeccable record of law
abidance would afford as
much protection as a clear
glass roof against the glare
of the sun.
A ringing of the tele-
phone, again, would set
everyone's nerves on edge.
In all probability it was only
a friend asking cir-
cumspectly — for tele-
phones were known to be
tapped — if everything was
in order. But every sound,
every movement was

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fraught with a dread which
only those who had experi-
enced it can understand.
People in free countries find
it hard to grasp what it was
like to live at a time when
life was so cheap and the
ring of the telephone might
presage the beginning of the
end.
As the night drew on,
the knocks became
louder and more fre-
quent. Here a university
professor, in better days
honored and respected
by his students, was
hauled from bed like a
common criminal just be-
fore midnight. There, a
businessman, known for
the unfailing care he
showed for his less fortu-
nate brethren, found
himself mercilessly
wrested from his family
circle.
Toward dawn they ar-
rested the venerable head of
the community, whose
snow-white beard and
saintly bearing lent him the
appearance of a patriarch.
The cantor, the Hebrew
teacher, all disappeared,
and when the morning of
Nov. 10 dawned, the Jewish
community of Germany was
one of sad, perplexed and
worried people.
By this time the
synagogues were mostly ab-
laze. One might have
thought the worst was over.
Instead the onslaught in its
full fury was still to come.
Systematically, the Nazis in
their brown uniforms, and
sporting black swastikas set
in white circles on red
armbands, moved from
house to house. Wherever
Jews were found they de-
stroyed their belongings,
smashed their furniture,
burned their books, and ar-
rested those men who had so
far escaped their clutches.
When the evening of Nov.
10 finally arrived, their fury
at last abated. Some 30,000
Jews had been arrested,
1,000 killed, about 1,000
buildings damaged or de-
stroyed. One hundred-
ninety one synagogues were
set on fire, 76 completely
demolished.
At least, the day had
served to remove the
complacency of those
who had believed that it
could never happen! And
now a mad scramble
began to get out, out, out!
But where to? Doors
which previously had
been wide open — such as
Palestine of earlier years
— were suddenly tightly
closed. The flames which
had been lapping at iso-
lated spots in the
periphery were now
everywhere and it was

When the groom was
called to the Torah (aufruf)
on the Sabbath before his
wedding, it was customary
to shower him with nuts
when he returned to his
seat. The numerical value
for the Hebrew word for nut
(egoz) is 17, the same for the
Hebrew word tov, or good.
In some communities,
raisins and sweets are
thrown.



hard to see a route of es-
cape between them.
Parents who found refuge
for their children blessed
their good fortune. The pain
of separation was over-
shadowed by the joy of find-
ing somewhere for them to
go. Nearly 200,000 German
and Austrian Jews were
annihilated in the
Holocaust.
The Night of the Broken
Glass was a turning point in
the history of German
Jewry. It was the beginning
of the dissolution of this
once great community, a
warning to Jews and to hu-
manity as to what was
ahead — the Holocaust with
its six million victims and
World War II, in which over
25 million civilians are es-
timated to have been
slaughtered.
The sound of glass break-
ing and of the urgent knocks
on the door, which might
have been episodes lacking
continuity, ushered in one
of the darkest periods in the
history of our people and of
mankind.

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