Lest We Forget

a touring exhibition of visual art and prose vignettes illustrating the early years of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany
and the refugee experience.

Kristallnacht

Any Jew living in Nazi Germany on November 8, 1938, remembers Kristallnacht, the night of shattered glass. From our balcony, I watched our local synagogue burning. I watched strangers kick Jews, easily identified because they were required to wear the Star of David. I watched police officers use their nightsticks to shatter windows of shops owned by Jews. 
 
Papa disappeared as he always did in times of danger. I was told he was going “out on business,” as he always did just before the Gestapo came knocking—and they knocked often.
 
How did Papa know?
 
Papa missed supper on Kristallnacht. I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime waiting for him to return. When Papa finally came home he was carrying a huge bundle covered with large rags and a dirty brown blanket. Was it a body?
 
Papa removed the wrappings and I saw a Torah almost as big as my Papa. He had rescued the holy scroll from our local synagogue while the building was aflame. My mother scolded, “Why take the risk? One should take precautions. And why bring a Torah into an apartment where even radios are forbidden? What if the swine come to inspect?” The swine, the Gestapo, were frequent visitors. “What will we do with a Torah in our apartment?”
 
Papa had no plan. “The rabbi will know what to do,” he assured us.
 
“Where does one find a rabbi on a night like this?” asked Mutti.
 
When I awoke the next morning, the Torah was gone. Papa was quite pleased with himself. I was only told that Papa had been “out on business.”  

Click on the art to see an enlarged image.
Art