Letter from David Fröhlich about Kristallnacht, November 1938
Fri, Nov 13 2015 07:48
David Fröhlich, Brooklyn, N.Y., My childhood memories, especially the last terrible years in Bad Mergentheim, I will never forget. Before Kristallnacht, November 8th-9th 1938, everything was bearable, although the Hitler Youth used every opportunity to harass us Jewish children. My father was very ill with a high fever, so that he could not meet their planned work. The Jewish doctor Dr. Hirnheimer was already in the Dachau concentration camp, and all the other doctors in Mergentheim were too timid and cowardly, to help the sick Jewish fellow citizens. My parents and we three children were completely without knowledge of what atrocities where to happened in the Kristallnacht, because we slept undisturbed exceptional that night. When I look back now, it was like a miracle that we were spared. The next day was a lot of shouting in the street, so we stayed at home scary, because we already felt that something terrible had happened, which was then also confirmed the radio. The neighbor of our grandmother, Mrs. Stern-Herzog, who lived in the Holzapfelgasse, came to us and told us that they had destroyed all in the synagogue and school. Many of the Jewish men, especially those who were on the blacklist, had beaten half to death, including our honorable Rabbi Dr. Moses Kahn. Those who could still walk were arrested that morning and taken to prison, and transported to the concentration camp of Dachau. My father asked my mother that she should go into the Holzapfelgasse to check on the Fröhlich’s grandmother, and how had she survived everything, since they all lived near the synagogue. We moved into a terrible anxiety and fear, so that I fell helplessly and I hid in the kitchen on the ground and prayed. Suddenly there was silence again, and I heard that the policeman had left the house without my father, because he saw that the Nazi doctor Dr. Weiß (White) treated him as he was seriously ill in reality. So my father had the good fortune to be spared from all the raids. Nevertheless, we did not dare to go out on the streets, until we heard the next morning, that the action was over. In contrast, an order came from the mayor's office that the Jewish community had to put everything back in order, which the Nazis had broken and bruised. And we children were taken to the cleanup service, I could not understand that you can be so thoughtless and wildly smashed everything. All chandeliers and lamps, prayer books and Torah scrolls, benches and galleries, as well as all the windows were shattered one after the other in the synagogue. Even the holy ark was not spared, in which we found pork skin. At school the harmonium (musical instruments), and all benches were smashed, torn books and notebooks and all smeared with ink. It was a cruel and horrible sight. When the war broke out in August 1939, we were allowed to have only one hour a day for any purchases outside, but this provision was changed again. We were able leave Bad Mergentheim on 28 0f August 1939, but not until we felt free and safe, and on the 1st of October 1939 crossed the Dutch border. A rewarding feeling came over us that we have come out of this hell even with their lives.