“Visits” to the homes of Jewish residents took place under the pretext of looking for weapons. In countless cases the residents were forced to leave home within a few minutes, their keys were taken from them and they wander in despair round the streets or in the vicinity of Vienna where they had fled to escape further persecution. Only later did they feel confident enough to go to relatives or friends.
One of my acquaintances wrote me a despairing letter from the streets on the night of 10th to 11th November in which she, a young life-loving person, announced her suicide if the efforts I had been making for a long time to obtain a position in a household here for her did not succeed very quickly. “She cannot stand it any longer. It is ghastly.” I received a letter from her dated the 13th November, by when she still had not had her key returned to her. “Whether we can survive this is a huge question.”
During the “visits” young men were routinely taken away. Some had the “luck” to be released after some hours, their treatment during the time of their imprisonment was however barbaric. A former member of the Union österreichischer Juden, Vienna Kultusvorsteher, head of a large branch of Merkurbank, Director Jacques Weiger, was so badly punched that his eardrum was damaged and he is lying in bed with severe pains in his body. Similarly a former Kultusvorsteher of the Union of Austrian Jews, the Prokurist of the Vienna Giro and Deposit Bank, Dr. Ernst Feldberg, who until recently had a position in the Vienna Kultusgemeinde as director of the cemetery office, was arrested in spite of his job in the Kultusgemeinde and badly battered.
The fate of thousands who were not released after their arrests but instead “properly” imprisoned remains totally unknown. That the authorities were not bothered by needing “reasons” for imprisonment is demonstrated by the fact that amongst those imprisoned and still held are doctors to whom Bewilligung had recently been granted as “Krankenbehandler”, to treat Jewish patients. What is happening to those in prison is still not known, their location cannot be determined; it was stated merely that they have been sent to do Zwangsarbeit in the Altreich.
“Less harmful” were those “visits” during which the uninvited guests satisfied themselves by taking valuables and money with them; one case is known to me in which the gentlemen were not content with watches and chains but also took a wedding ring. In some cases the “visits” were repeated a number of times.
The order concerning closure of all educational buildings and places of entertainment for Jews has not hit them particularly hard because already only small number of Jews visited such places. Most of them had not dared to go out onto the street for weeks for fear of jostling. It is also significant that – apart from at coffee houses and inns – the Jews are “not wanted” even at confectioners.
Internal Jewish community life has been killed off completely; my prophesy concerning this at the end of my first long report has been proved correct in a shorter time than I had expected. It is known that the “Zionistische Rundschau” like all Jewish newspapers in Germany had to close. It may be less well known that rabbis have been forbidden to preach so that the unfortunate Jews in Vienna now also have to do without this spiritual support. As already reiterated in recent times, it can be assumed that from now on no evening services can take place and at best short morning prayers. Vienna is not affected by the banning of the Kulturbund because this institution had never been permitted to be set up there anyway. Recent endeavours on the part of Director Hellmer, working in Germany at one time and Director of the “Theatre on the Wien” before the turmoil, and which appeared almost to have borne fruit, have of course failed once and for all.
22nd November 1938
In Potsdam, as in other towns, the synagogue on Wilhemsplatz has been badly damaged. Because the synagogue building, which stands on one of the most outstanding squares in Potsdam, is immediately surrounded on one side by the main post office and on the other by a residential house, they did not burn the synagogue down as has been done in other towns. Consequently the interior of the synagogue was heavily damaged using machinery. At the house adjacent to the synagogue, where the cantor lives with his family, stones were flung through the windows, so that those living in the house barely managed to reach safety.
The official opening of the now ruined synagogue was celebrated in 1903. It stands on the same spot where Frederick the Great in his day had had a synagogue built for the Jewish people of Potsdam. In the new synagogue there was also a Prussian eagle with sword and sceptre as a symbol for that building.
Even the funeral chapel at the Jewish cemetery at Pfingsberg was destroyed and the cemetery itself closed. The graves themselves do not appear to have been damaged.
Originally all the male members of the Jewish community of Potsdam were arrested. Even the eldest, amongst them men of over 70 years of age, although they were later released. Still under arrest are, amongst others, Rabbi Dr. Hermann Schreiber, likewise his son Dr. Paul Schreiber who until his arrest was a teacher at a Jewish school in Berlin, in addition the first chairman of the Jewish community, lawyer Dr. Marcuse. Also arrested was Dr. Fritz Hirschberg, the well-known Berlin physician and successor to Professor Dr. Boas, who has been living with his mother in Potsdam after giving up his practice.
Most of those arrested, amongst them Rabbi Dr. Schreiber, are in the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen.
A children’s home in Caputh near Potsdam was also violently closed. It appears that the children accommodated in this home barely managed to save their lives as, according to a reliable report, a 15-year-old boy saved the life of the one-year-old child of a teacher.
REPORT ON THE EVENTS
on 9th and 10th November 1938 in Kiel
1) Attempted murders. The Chairman of the Jewish community, Gustav Lask, who had lived as an independent gentleman in the Villenviertel area of Kiel since the sale of his business, was shot and seriously wounded by two arrest on the night of 10th November. He was shot in the stomach and lay between life and death in hospital for seven weeks. Herr L. now lives in London. Furthermore, the owner of S. Mastbaum silk dealers, who also lived in the Villenviertel area of Kiel, was shot down by five shots. He received a graze to the lung, a graze to the head and an especially dangerous shot to the jaw. Herr L., who is 59 years old, now lives in London (15 Woodchurch Rd., NW6, at Mrs Joseph’s). men after his
2) Arrests. About 55 people, Jews and non-Aryans, were arrested in Kiel and taken to Sachsenhausen. Amongst those arrested was the former second mayor of Kiel, Gradenwitz, who is non- . Some 15 Jewish shops were destroyed, as well as a few houses, amongst them those of Gradenwitz and Rosenstein.
3) The synagogue was burned and completely destroyed inside. The Thorarollen were ruined. A brass candlestick donated in memory of the Jewish fallen has not been found and was probably stolen. The memorial tablet in honour of the Jewish fallen was discovered in the ruins of the synagogue and later rehung in the cemetery mortuary.
As the synagogue was being set on fire, the Christian warden, a widow, was driven into the street in her nightshirt. Her home was destroyed. The woman fainted as a result.
A pronounced agitation of the masses was to be felt already for some weeks, I heard two women talking thus on the tram: One should slay the Jews at the next best opportunity. The sign “Juden unerwünscht” appeared on various shops, cinemas etc. In Ansbach e.g., the seat of the district administration, already weeks ago this sign was on every shop without exception, whatever the trade; conditions were even worse in small places and in the countryside, people were forced by acts of terror or even by signing them away to sell their goods and chattels within a few hours at a knock-down price and to leave – to where? to the nearest big city of course. The same question, to where, before which all now stand. The murderous attack, some believe in a commissioned job, provided the desired trigger.
In the night from 9th to 10th November we awoke to the noise of furniture being thrown about and were able to establish that uniformed SA in small private cars, always seven to eight men in each, were breaking into Jewish homes and destroying everything like vandals. Cupboards of tableware were simply turned over, all the furniture smashed up, clothes in cupboards slashed to pieces, silver flung onto the floor and stamped upon, pictures cut up, grand pianos smashed up, no mirror, no window remained intact. One still cannot grasp today why everything was destroyed, and indeed destroyed in an organised manner, for the SA arrived with slips of paper so that virtually every home was destroyed, regardless whether it concerned a large villa of the rich or the smallest little attic room of the smallest.
Whilst only a very few of the homes were overlooked, even the shops of foreigners were utterly destroyed. In mine the six shop windows were smashed in, [they] broke in through them and not even a tiny piece remained in its place. Over one metre high the wares lay around completely destroyed, the machines hacked, important books stolen. Items worth millions were destroyed, and indeed this was done solely upon orders from above and featured in the four-year plan, because in fact even the last toothpaste tube was squeezed-out so as to prevent anything being recovered. In some homes there were vile thefts, of. 4,000.- as at Anna’s, whose husband is a retired official, at other people’s, jewellery, whereas from others not the least thing was stolen but only destroyed. Now the poor people sit in their homes in the cold as the window panes have not as yet been permitted to be repaired by order.
Worse however than everything are the arrests, in N. everything was destroyed, few people were arrested, whilst in F. everyone [was] arrested, even the foreigners, no homes were destroyed, only the shops. In M. every man was arrested (in F. even the women temporarily), and almost without exception those arrested were deported to; there they were allowed to receive and send a letter of 15 lines every 14 days. Some money could be sent to them. Our brother-in-law Herbert is also there.
Nor did the matter go away so completely without bloodshed either. A friend of mine, jeweller F. L., had just undergone surgery in the Jewish Hospital in F., the sisters did not want to release him and he suffered a fatal stroke; Paul Lebrecht was thrown down the stairs, dead. Brother Langstadt suicide. Will not be the last. Other people lowered themselves on sheets at a window and remained in their nightclothes in the garden or garage. The funeral of an acquaintance, turnout three people, of whom one spoke a few words, had to take place in the open air as even the cemetery hall has been completely destroyed.
The synagogues were already plundered during the previous night, in N. of 40 Sefer Torahs, 27 were destroyed, the silver pendants stolen, and all that, even though this quarter was guarded and cordoned off by the police on this night because of the Führer’s presence. Due to the draconian measures that now followed, for many people it is also no longer possible to buy food, even those who have money, even pharmacies refuse to dispense, and medical care is completely inadequate. All the homes must be vacated by 1st December, where to now, where to later, that is the question which dominates everyone, neither the material question nor the stomach question are in the foreground, this question and the people who have been arrested are the anxious questions which everyone asks themselves.
So help, help, help everyone, as one can, and those who believe they have done enough might do the same again, even that is too little. One must admit that through clandestine aid and comfort, which today many Christians provide for Jews, it has been proved that this vandalism is not coming to pass from the German people. Many groups must likewise endure the worst even if in another form.
Many rabbis had their beards cut off, and [they were] arrested.
Reporter: unnamed, sent by [crossed out: S.I.G.] Juna, St. Gallen