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November 07, 2013 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-07

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metro >> on the cover


'Night Of Broken Glass'

Local survivors share horrible memories on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Esther Allweiss Ingber I Contributing Writer


Hills-based Holocaust Memorial Center
(HMC). "Thousands of Jews were 'repatri-
ated' — to use the Nazi euphemism — to
Poland. Because Poland did not want to
receive them, they were simply deposited
at a dismal strip across the Polish border,
where they had scarcely any food, water or
shelter. Among them was the entire family
of a 17-year-old Jewish boy living in Paris"
Young Herschel Grynszpan was enraged
upon hearing of his parents' plight. Seeking
vengeance, he took a pistol to the German
embassy in Paris and shot the first person
he encountered there, a minor official by
the name of Ernst vom Rath, who died Nov.
8 of his gunshot wounds.
"Grynszpan's parents, hearing of the
planned measures of retribution, pleaded
that Grynszpan's act should be taken as an
isolated incident" Stern said. "But the Nazis
had been waiting for such a provocation
and had, long before, organized a mass
pogrom against the Jews. Now they set it
in motion. With great efficiency and great
coordination, they burned virtually every
synagogue in Germany, violated and looted
Jewish-owned stores, broke into Jewish
homes, and abused and killed their inhabit-
Some in our community survived those
horrible nights long ago. They share their
memories of Kristallnacht and of their lives
before and after the war.

John Nemon, 91,
of West Bloomfield
Born in Vienna on Nov.
28, 1921, John Nemon
attended a technical
school until the Jewish
students were dismissed
around April 1938.
Mother Frieda ran a soup
kitchen for the Jewish
community. Father Benjamin owned two
movie theaters.
When Kristallnacht spread to Austria on
Nov. 10, only Nemon, 16, and Frieda were
at home. Benjamin was arrested just before
and was destined never to return home. But
safe in England were Nemon's siblings Bella,
18, a housemaid, and Norbert, 10, who
worked on a farm since coming over on the
Kindertransport, a secret rescue by train of
10,000 Jewish children.
Nemon's plan that day was to go to the
American Embassy to see if his number was

Interior of a Berlin synagogue after Kristallnacht

called for a visa to the United States.
The non-Jewish caretaker of his building,
"with a big swastika on his lapel" wouldn't
let Nemon go outside.
"'Today is not the day for you: he said,
and then showed me where my synagogue
was burning a couple of blocks down. The
smoke was sky-high.
"He saved me. I found out that anyone
who went to the embassy that day was
beaten up or killed"
Nemon and his mother stayed inside and
Later, the scene was broken windows and
Nazis everywhere. Nemon heard his aunts
were caught and made to scrub the street.
After getting his visa in February
1939, Nemon saw his jailed father one
last time. That summer, Benjamin got 24
hours' notice to leave Austria. He fled to
Yugoslavia and ended up in a Nazi camp,
where "an eyewitness saw them kill my
father," Nemon said.
After escaping to England in September
1939, Frieda tried to survive by sewing and
taking in boarders. She saw her children,
but they didn't live together.
In New York, Nemon responded to an
ad offering training for unemployed young
men at a government-sponsored camp in

Chelsea, Mich. That's how Detroit became
his home.
Nemon was drafted into the U.S. Army
for World War II although considered
"an enemy alien" He served three years,
first in Marseilles (France) and then mov-
ing through the Panama Canal to the
Pacific. His unit was south of Hawaii when
President Harry Truman gave orders to
drop the atomic bomb. Nemon's ship was
diverted to the Philippines, and the soldiers
later occupied Japan.
Prior to his military discharge, Nemon
became a naturalized American citizen.
He vouched for his mother and brother
to join him. They received visas, "but the
ships were filled" so Nemon took action in
Washington, D.C.
"I went to see a famous Michigan
Republican senator, Arthur Vandenberg. He
said, 'Don't worry, I'll bring them over And
in two weeks, they were here
Frieda and Norbert stayed in New York
with family, later joining Nemon in Detroit.
His brother lives in California; their mother
died two years ago at age 99.
In his working life, Nemon had a clean-
ing business and later owned a real estate
He was married 68 years to Sarah

(Carpenter), and they had four children,
seven grandchildren and seven great-grand-
children. Her death in February prompted
his move to the Hechtman II Apartments in
West Bloomfield. Nemon enjoys the men's
group at the West Bloomfield JCC and a
club for Jewish men from Vienna that's
been meeting for 20 years.

Charles Growe,
89, of Oak Park
Karl Grosz was Charles
Growe's original name.
He was born in Vienna in
1924 to Stella (Schwarz)
and Fred Grosz, a ship-
ping agent.
Charles Growe
Jewish families like the
Groszes became fairly
assimilated during the reign of Austro-
Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I, who
ushered in a period of tolerance from
approximately 1848 to 1938. But, by March
1938 in Vienna, "it was beginning to get
bloodthirsty" Growe said.
A 14-year-old Boy Scout during
Kristallnacht, Growe was upset when "they
picked up my mother on the street and
locked her up at the S.S. headquarters"

Broken Glass on page 10


November 7 • 2013

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