Holocaust survivors who witnessed “Kristallnacht”: the world has not left

Prior to the commemoration of the November pogroms, also known as “Kristallnacht”, (November 9, 1938), Holocaust survivors who witnessed the pogroms as children are participating in a worldwide commemoration initiative led by the International March of the Living World, “Let There Be Light”, bravely reflecting on the terrible memories of that night, in order to help educate the next generation and confront hatred.

Walter Sommers (Indiana)

Walter Sommers, now 100 years old, lives in Indiana, USA, but was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on December 29, 1920. Walter went to a German public school, and when the Nazis came to power, Walter followed attending his school. but his daily reality changed. All the teachers had to join the Nazi union and wear the swastika on their lapels. When any teacher entered the classroom, the students would get up and salute the Nazis. As Hitler came to power, there were more and more laws against Jews that limited their freedoms.

Walter was living in Munich at the time of the “night of broken glass”, the Kristallnacht pogrom. This was the first violent pogrom against Jews by the Nazis in Germany and Austria. Synagogues were burned, shop windows were smashed, and 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and taken to Dachau and Buchenwald. The Sommers family tents were destroyed and looted. Walter’s father was arrested and taken to Buchenwald. After speaking with his mother, Walter went home to Frankfurt to help clean up and support his family during this dangerous time. The Jewish people were forced to reimburse insurance companies for damage to their businesses.

Senta Gruenberg Graff (credit: courtesy)

Senta Gruenberg Graff (Los Angeles)

Senta Gruenberg Graff lives in Los Angeles today. He was born in May 1924, in a small town in Germany called Rheine. He grew up in a traditional home where his family observed the laws of Kosher and Shabbat. Before Kristallnacht and the rise of Hitler, his family lived peacefully in Rheine, in friendship with the non-Jewish residents of this small community.

At the age of 14, with the rise of the Nazis to power, she experienced what she describes as “the nightmare of Kristallnacht,” which forever changed the course of her life. It is difficult for Senta to explain and describe the emotions she felt seeing her synagogue burn. Remember that his father desperately wanted to save the Torah scrolls.

As it felt unsafe to stay in the city after Kristallnacht, Senta’s family went into hiding. Upon returning to Rheine, her parents tried to find ways to get out of Germany. In 1940, his father was able to secure his transport, along with 130 other people, to Sweden. He left Rheine with two suitcases and 10 DEMs and never saw his parents again. They were sent to Riga where they were killed. Senta remained in Sweden until 1945. With the help of the Red Cross, she was able to discover that her brother had survived the war after being sent to the Netherlands in 1936.

Senta firmly believes that the worst that can be allowed to happen is for these times to be forgotten. She implores everyone to never forget it.

    Anita Weisbord (credit: courtesy) Anita Weisbord (credit: courtesy)

Anita Weisbord

Anita Weisbord was 14 years old at the time of Kristallnacht. He lived in Vienna, Austria, and it is a night that he explains that he will never forget. His father’s business was taken from him and he was arrested and sent to Dachau. Anita remembers that everything was taken from them and life was never the same again.

Anita’s mother realized that things were no longer safe for them in Austria and with great difficulty sent Anita on the Kindertransport to England. Anita remembers this moment, as if she had been born twice: the day of her actual birth and the day her mother sent her on the Kindertransport to England. This memory is always with her. Anita says that she will never be able to forget the events of Kristallnacht.

Anita noted that she does not believe the world has learned the lessons of Kristallnacht and is eager to tell her story in the Holocaust. “It is vital to tell our story because the world needs to know where hatred can lead. We cannot remain as spectators, ”he said.

Senta firmly believes that the worst that can be allowed to happen is for these times to be forgotten. She implores everyone to never forget it.


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