Remembering Kristallnacht

Six Holocaust survivors: Fred Katz, Esther Gever, Jacob Wiener, Eva Abraham-Podietz, Robert Behr, and Herbert Karliner, recount their personal experiences during the Kristallnacht Pogrom and the events that followed.

This video compilation was created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum with footage from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive.

What is 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.


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 traveled 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.