Broken Glass And Insufficient Metaphors

'Kristallnacht' Fails To Encapsulate Terror of Nazi Pogrom

Nazi Pogrom: The Ludwigsburg Synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht.
Wikimedia Commons
Nazi Pogrom: The Ludwigsburg Synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht.

By Benjamin Ivry

Published December 18, 2012, issue of December 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The resulting assemblage contains accounts written within a year or so of the events they describe. Nazi propaganda initially persuaded few, as a Nuremberg-born lawyer, Rudolf Bing — not to be confused with the opera impresario of the same name — wrote from Palestine. The supposed excuse for the Nazi pogrom was the November 7 killing of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Jewish refugee. Yet Bing notes, “It was not as though this event had really upset the German people.” Bing adds:

“It was astonishing how in general the Jews in Nuremberg, despite all the hard knocks they had been dealt by fate, did not languish submissively but instead actively took matters in hand in their shrunken community, helped those who needed help, tried to keep the school and worship going and in particular, with everyone’s support, made it possible for young people to emigrate.”

Hope for the next generation was clearly a motivating force for Sofoni Herz, a teacher in a Jewish orphanage in Dinslaken, in West Germany. Gathering her charges — almost three dozen children — after vom Rath’s death she told them, “People are making us Jews responsible for this… I suspect that not since the Middle Ages have we Jews in Germany had to tread a path as hard as the one we now have to take.”

Some witnesses ceded to bitterness, such as distinguished health professional Hertha Nathorff, who until September 1938 was head physician at Berlin’s Charlottenburg Hospital. Reacting to the horrific difficulty of obtaining an exit visa, Nathorff writes: “I’d never even made a streetwalker wait as long at the door to my clinic as I now had to stand, along with other women tortured with worry…. No one took pity on me; no one would help me — me, who had spent my whole life trying to help others.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.