Kristallnacht

The Kristallnacht Pogrom was an organized pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria that occurred on November 9–10, 1938. Kristallnacht is also known as the November Pogrom, “Night of Broken Glass,” and “Crystal Night.” Orchestrated by the Nazis in retaliation for the assassination of a German embassy official in Paris by a seventeen-year-old Jewish youth named Herchel Grynzspan, 1,400 synagogues and 7,000 businesses were destroyed, almost 100 Jews were killed, and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. German Jews were subsequently held financially responsible for the destruction wrought upon their property during this pogrom.

Esther Clifford remembers Kristallnacht

Esther Clifford discusses events of the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 9-10, 1938 and recalls the state of fear that drove her to flee her hometown of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

 

  • Esther Clifford remembers Kristallnacht

    Language: English

    Esther Clifford discusses events of the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 9-10, 1938 and recalls the state of fear that drove her to flee her hometown of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

     

  • Kurt Messerschmidt

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Kurt describes what he observed in the aftermath of the Kristallnacht pogrom in Berlin, Germany, in November 1938.

    Gender: Male
    DOB: January 2, 1915
    City of birth: Werneuchen
    Country of birth: Germany
    Ghettos: Theresienstadt
    Camps: Ganacker (Germany : Concentration Camp), Golleschau (Poland : Concentration Camp), Auschwitz II-Birkenau (Poland : Death Camp), Flossenbürg (Germany : Concentration Camp), Sachsenhausen (Germany : Concentration Camp)

     

  • Esther Gever

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Esther Gever remembers trying to protect her father from being arrested.

    Gender: Female
    DOB: April 14, 1930
    City of birth: Vienna
    Country of birth: Austria
    Ghettos: No
    Went into hiding: Yes
    Other experiences: Displaced Persons Camps

     

  • Fred Katz

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Fred Katz remembers his birthday coinciding with the Kristallnacht Pogrom.

    Gender: Male
    DOB: November 10, 1927
    City of birth: Oberlauringen
    Country of birth: Germany
    Ghettos: No
    Went into hiding: No
    Other experiences: Kindertransport

     

  • Eva Abraham-Podietz

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Eva Abraham Podietz went to school as usual during the Kristallnacht Pogrom only to be sent right home again. On her way home, she encountered Nazi youths.

    Gender: Female
    DOB: May 22, 1927
    City of birth: Hamburg
    Country of birth: Germany
    Ghettos: No
    Fled Nazi Occupied Territory: Yes

     

  • Herbert Karliner

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Herbert Karliner's family business was destroyed during the Kristallnacht Pogrom, prompting the family to leave Germany.

    Gender: Male
    DOB: September 3, 1926
    City of birth: Peiskretscham
    Country of birth: Germany
    Camps: Boussac (France : Concentration Camp)
    Went into hiding: Yes

     

  • Jacob Wiener

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Jacob Wiener recalls being taunted by his classmates during the Kristallnacht Pogrom.

    Gender: Male
    DOB: March 25, 1917
    City of birth: Bremen
    Country of birth: Germany
    Ghettos: No
    Went into hiding: No
    Fled Nazi-occupied Territory: Yes

     

  • Robert Behr

    Language: English

    Jewish Holocaust Survivor

    Robert Behr describes how the events of Kristallnacht shook his family's belief in a civil Germany.

    Gender: Male
    DOB: March 1, 1922
    City of birth: Berlin
    Country of birth: Germany
    Ghettos: Theresienstadt (Czechoslovakia)
    Camps: Zossen-Wulkow bei Trebnitz (Germany : Concentration Camp)

     

The survivors featured in this exhibit

Fred Katz

Fred Katz was born November 10, 1927, in Oberlauringen, Germany. After the events of the Kristallnacht Pogrom, Fred’s mother wanted to send him away from Germany. In 1939, Fred left for England on a Kindertransport, along with other children under the age of 17. Fred went to school in Kent and then was employed as a factory worker until the war ended in 1945. He immigrated to the United States in 1947 and met his future wife, Pearl Gottleib. They were married in 1969 and had one daughter: Liat. At the time of Fred’s interview in 1997, he was living in Baltimore.

Esther Gever

Esther Gever was born on April 14, 1930, in Vienna, Austria. After the Kristallnacht Pogrom, she and her family fled to Rozvadov, Poland, where, due to the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, they came under Soviet control. Esther was in the Soviet Union when the war ended in 1945. She returned to Poland and met her future husband, Sol Gever. They married in 1948 and together, they immigrated to the United States in 1959. They had two children: Otylia and Dorinne. At the time of Esther’s interview in 1997, she and her husband had two grandchildren.

Jacob Wiener

Jacob Wiener was born on March 25, 1917, in Bremen, Germany. After the events of the Kristallnacht Pogrom, Jacob was arrested and sent to prison. He was released shortly after and upon his return, he discovered that his mother had been killed during the pogrom. In early 1939, Jacob provided aid to scores of people immigrating to the Baltic States through an organization called Agudath Israel. That summer, Jacob, his father, sister, and brothers immigrated to Canada. Jacob later studied to be a rabbi and teacher in New York and met his future wife, Gertrude Farntrog. The couple was married in 1948 and had three children: David, Selma, and Judith. At the time of Jacob’s interview in 1996, Jacob and Gertrude had sixteen grandchildren.

Eva Abraham-Podietz

Eva Abraham-Podietz was born on May 22, 1927, in Hamburg, Germany. After the Kristallnacht Pogrom, Eva left for England on a Kindertransport along with other children under the age of 17. After the war, Eva travelled to Israel where she met her future husband, Moshe Abraham. They immigrated to Pennsylvania in November 1959, and Eva worked as a teacher and social worker. She had two children: Daniel and Naomi. At the time of Eva’s interview in 1994, she and her second husband, David Podietz, were living in Pennsylvania.

Robert Behr

Robert Behr was born on March 1, 1922, in Berlin, Germany. In 1942, Robert was deported to Theresienstadt, a ghetto in Czechoslovakia, where he was selected for forced labor. He remained there until the Soviet Army liberated the area in May 1945. Robert then immigrated to the United States in 1947 and joined the United States Army where he was stationed in Berlin. He retired from the Army in 1952 and worked with the Air Force as an intelligence officer. Robert married Marie-Therese Goedert in 1954 and the couple had two daughters: Pitou and Deborah. After his retirement in 1988, he became an adjunct history professor in Ohio. At the time of Robert’s interview in 1996, he and Marie had two grandchildren.

Herbert Karliner

Herbert Karliner was born on September 3, 1926, in Peiskretscham, Germany. After the family business was destroyed during the Kristallnacht Pogrom, the Karliners decided to leave Germany on the MS St. Louis. When the ship was forced to return to Europe, Herbert ended up in France under the care of Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), an organization that placed him under the care of various children’s homes. At the time of liberation in 1944, Herbert was working on a farm under a false identity. Through OSE, Herbert met his future wife, Vera Maiofis. They immigrated to the United States in 1946 and were married in 1961. They have two children: Michelle and Debra. At the time of Herbert’s interview in 1995, he and his wife were living in Miami, Florida, and had one grandchild.

Kurt Messerschmidt

Kurt Messerschmidt was born Jan. 2, 1915 in Weneuchen, Germany, but moved to Berlin in 1918 and excelled as a linguistics scholar, gymnast and musician. He worked for a furniture-mover who protected Jews by employing them so they could avoid deportation, but in 1943 he and his fiancé, Sonja, were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. They were married there but separated when Kurt and his brother were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and assigned to work detail at Golleschau. Kurt and Henry remained at Golleschau until January 1945 when the camp was evacuated due to the approach of the Soviet Army. After surviving a death march, the brothers arrived first to Sachsenhausen and shortly thereafter to Flossenbürg, where they were separated when Kurt continued on to Ganacker. After liberation, Messerschmidt and Sonja reunited and eventually settled in Portland, Maine where he became a teacher and musician. At the time of his interview he gave to USC Shoah Foundation in 1997, he and Sonja had two children, Eva and Michael.

Watch video from our academic conference on Kristallnacht on the occasion of its 80th anniversary, held at the University of Southern California in November 2018.

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