Friday, November 9, 2007

69 years ago today

November 9th/10th, 1938.

Copy of Most Urgent telegram from Munich of November 10, 1938, 1:20 A.M. To:
All Headquarters and Stations of the State Police
All Districts and Sub-districts of the SA
Urgent! For immediate attention of Chief or his deputy!

Re: Measures against Jews tonight

Following the attempt on the life of Secretary of the Legation vom Rath in Paris, demonstrations against the Jews are to be expected in all parts of the Reich in the course of the coming night, November 9/10, 1938. The instructions below are to be applied in dealing with these events:

1. The Chiefs of the State Police, or their deputies, must immediately upon receipt of this telegram contact, by telephone, the political leaders in their areas -- Gauleiter or Kreisleiter -- who have jurisdiction in their districts and arrange a joint meeting with the inspector or commander of the Order Police to discuss the arrangements for the demonstrations. At these discussions the political leaders will be informed that the German Police has received instructions, detailed below, from the Reichsfuehrer SS and the Chief of the German Police, with which the political leadership is requested to coordinate its own measures:

a) Only such measures are to be taken as do not endanger German lives or property (i.e. synagogues are to be burned down only where there is no danger of fire to neighboring buildings).
b) Places of business and apartments belonging to Jews may be destroyed but not looted. The police are instructed to supervise the observance of this order and to arrest looters.

c) In commercial streets particular care is to be taken that non-Jewish businesses are completely protected against damage.

d) Foreign citizens - even if they are Jews - are not to be molested.

2. On the assumption that the guidelines detailed under para. 1 are observed, the demonstrations are not to be prevented by the Police, who are only to supervise the observance of the guidelines.

3. On receipt of this telegram Police will seize all archives to be found in all synagogues and offices of the Jewish communities so as to prevent their destruction during the demonstrations. This refers only to material of historical value, not to contemporary tax records, etc. The archives are to be handed over to the locally responsible officers of the SD.

4. The control of the measures of the Security Police concerning the demonstrations against the Jews is vested in the organs of the State Police, unless inspectors of the Security Police have given their own instructions. Officials of the Criminal Police, members of the SD, of the Reserves and the SS in general may be used to carry out the measures taken by the Security Police.

5. As soon as the course of events during the night permits the release of the officials required, as many Jews in all districts - especially the rich - as can be accommodated in existing prisons are to be arrested. For the time being only healthy male Jews, who are not too old, are to be detained. After the detentions have been carried out the appropriate concentration camps are to be contacted immediately for the prompt accommodation of the Jews in the camps. Special care is to be taken that the Jews arrested in accordance with these instructions are not ill-treated...

Signed Heydrich,
SS Gruppenfuehrer

Instructions from Reinhard Heydrich

A Letter by a Firefighter

This letter was written by a retired fireman, who remembered "Crystal Night" in Laupheim (Germany)

The alarm went off between 5-5:30 A.M., and as usual, I jumped on my bicycle towards the firehouse. I had a strange feeling when I got there and saw many people standing in front of it. I was not allowed to go into the firehouse to take the engines out, or even to open the doors. One of my friends, who lived next to the Synagogue, whispered to me, "Be quiet - the Synagogue is burning; I was beaten up already when I wanted to put out the fire."

Eventually we were allowed to take the fire engines out, but only very slowly. We were ordered not to use any water till the whole synagogue was burned down. Many of us did not like to do that, but we had to be careful not to voice our opinions, because "the enemy is listening."

Only after one of the party members was worried that his house was going to catch fire, were we allowed to use water. But, even then, we just had to stand and watch until the House of Prayers was reduced to rubble and ashes.

In the meantime, the marshalls rounded up the Jews and dragged them in front of the Synagogue, where they had to kneel down and put their hands above their heads. I saw with my own eyes how one old Jew was dragged down and pushed to his knees. Then the arsonists came in their brown uniforms to admire the results of their destruction.

....Everyone seemed rather quiet and subdued... We had to stand watch at the Synagogue to make sure there were no more smoldering sparks. My turn was from 10-11 and 2-3 P.M. The brown uniforms paraded around to admire their work.

As I was watching the destroyed Synagogue and the frail old Jews, I wondered whose turn would be next!... When would it be our turn? Will the same thing happen to our Protestant and Catholic Churches!

A Personal Memoir By Michael Bruce
Michael Bruce, a non-Jewish Englishman, provided this eyewitness account:

...Hurriedly we went out into the street. It was crowded with people, all hurrying towards a nearby synagogue, shouting and gesticulating angrily.
We followed. As we reached the synagogue and halted, silent and angry, on the fringe of the mob, flames began to rise from one end of the building. It was the signal for a wild cheer. The crowd surged forward and greedy hands tore seats and woodwork from the building to feed the flames.

Behind us we heard more shouts. Turning, we saw a section of the mob start off along the road towards Israel's store where, during the day, piles of granite cubes, ostensibly for repairing the roads, had been heaped. Youths, men and women, howling deliriously, hurled the blocks through the windows and at the closed doors. In a few minutes the doors gave way and the mob, shouting and fighting, surged inside to pillage and loot.

By now the streets were a chaos of screaming bloodthirsty people lusting for Jewish bodies. I saw Harrison of The News Chronicle, trying to protect an aged Jewess who had been dragged from her home by a gang. I pushed my way through to help him and, between us, we managed to heave her through the crowd to a side street and safety.

We turned back towards Israel's, but now the crowd, eager for fresh conquests, was pouring down a side road towards the outskirts of the city. We hurried after them in time to see one of the foulest exhibitions of bestiality I have ever witnessed.

The object of the mob's hate was a hospital for sick Jewish children, many of them cripples or consumptives. In minutes the windows had been smashed and the doors forced. When we arrived, the swine were driving the wee mites out over the broken glass, bare-footed and wearing nothing but their nightshirts. The nurses, doctors, and attendants were being kicked and beaten by the mob leaders, most of whom were women.

Eyewitness accounts

November 9th/10th, 1938.