Friday, November 10, 2006

Kristallnacht

The following may be of no interest to anyone ... especially these days and nights of monumental changes in our political, military and social situations ... so I won't be hurt or insulted if you hit the delete key. On the other hand, I get a sort of harmless self-satisfaction out of recording this anniversary, which did much to shape my life and attitudes ... and thus, I guess, had some effect on the personalities off my neglected off-spring, their offspring ... and acquaintances:

It was 68 years ago tonight and this morning - November 10th, 1938 - when a bunch of German thugs barged into our magnificent Leipzig apartment ... smashed up our furniture, and threw my mom and me down the Christianstrasse stairs.

My dad, telephonically warned during the predawn hours by one of his patients - a high-level Leipzig police official - managed to escape to Berlin, via a pre-dawn express train - on which he shared the First Class compartment with a black-uniformed, swastika festooned, SS officer ... who probably didn't realize he was sharing space and conversation with a Jew ... and who, upon learning that my father was a physician, specializing in venereal disease control, pumped my dad for information on how to avoid catching gonorrhea or syphilis.

Hours later, on this day, 68 years ago today, my father stood on the Fasanenstrasse (sp.?) sidewalk, and watched Berlin's huge synagogue burning ... one of many, that day, throughout Germany. Later, he took advantage of the fact that none of us "looked" Jewish ... and spent several days reading books and newspapers, in the lobbies of Berlin's best hotels ... and eating in their excellent restaurants ... until around November 15th, by which time the government decided that it was time to stop the pogroms ... especially in view of the fact that the Kristallnacht actions had cost Germany huge amounts of plate glass, much of which had to be imported ... my mom and I managed to catch another train to Berlin ... and where we were reunited ... and spent the next week or so, at my grandmother's apartment. (That fine businesswoman was later shipped to Lithuania and murdered in one of those very efficient death camps).

Among the weird aftermaths: we managed to have our smashed furniture repaired, and have it shipped to New York ... and today ... at this very moment ... both of my daughters, in Fremont (CA) and Sugar Land (TX) ... have large, fancy items of furniture on which - if you look closely - you can see where those fine German craftsmen repaired the Nov. 10th Nazi hatched marks.

November 10th ... for me, always an interesting anniversary date.

As I said in the beginning ... I don't expect anyone to be much fascinated by this retelling of ancient history ... but, nevertheless, these next few weeks I'll be completing the rewrite of my photo-illustrated book, The Jew from Christian Street, which I'll leave for my offspring ....

But Those were surely interesting times.

Cheers,
gary s franklin

1 comment:

Molly Jeane said...

Thank you for posting your story because it helps a lot of people know the tragedy of Kristallnacht because amazingly enough not many people know that it happened, they know the Holocaust happened- I would just like to know one thing I'd like to know about Nov. 10th in Berlin is what time did they arrive? Was it in the early morning or closer to day?