Volume 2  –  document 185

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee memorandum, dated 30 November 1938, on the consequences of the pogrom in various cities, as well as in Jewish retraining centres and in concentration camps1JDC Archives, AR 33/44, p. 632. The original document is in English.

Memorandum (Morris Troper),2Morris Troper (1892–1962), lawyer; worked as a lawyer and as an accountant in New York; started working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in 1920; chairman of the JDC’s European Executive Council, 1938–1942; officer in the US Army, 1942–1948. dated 30 November 1938 (marked ‘most highly confidential’)

Dear Joe,3Probably Joseph Hyman.

I am enclosing herewith some papers which are most highly confidential. This material, which came from a most reliable source, was given to me while I was in Berlin, and you will recognize by the nature of it that it is extremely delicate and sensitive information and should be used only in the ‘family circle.’

The report on the ‘Situation of Training Centres’ is greatly epitomized. For instance, under ‘Bomsdorf ’, reference is made to the shooting of a sixteen year old boy.4There was a retraining centre at the Bomsdorf estate close to Bitterfeld. Here young Jews were trained in farming and horticulture in preparation for emigration to Palestine. The description given to me of this and other incidents was so heartbreaking that no person with the least drop of human kindness in him, could keep back the tears. The facts of the shooting are as follows:

On the famous Thursday morning, storm troopers appeared at the Jewish training centre in Bomsdorf and order the young people, still in their pajamas, into the woods. The boys were lined up and counted. The storm troopers found only 38 trainees, whereas according to information which they apparently had, there should have been 40 boys. One of the troopers thereupon demanded of the first boy on line, advice as to where the other two were. This lad, frightened beyond speech, could make no ready reply, and as a result the trooper became so infuriated that he drew his revolver, shot the boy through the forehead and then kicked aside the limp body.

I could go on telling you some more of these horrible stories, but the mere repetition of them is so upsetting that I hate imposing them on anyone. Besides, I think that most of the happenings have already been published in newspapers.

In the course of the next days, I shall try, if I can, to give you a brief report on my recent trip.

After you have read this letter, please detach it from the rest of the material and destroy it.

Sincerely yours,

P.S.: If you feel that any of the information contained in the attached may be of interest to the A.J.C., you may use your judgement in letting them see it. In any event, you may wish to show it to P.B. and J.N.R. first.5Paul Baerwald (1871–1961), honorary chairman of the JDC, and James N. Rosenberg (1874–1970), vice chairman of the JDC.

Even before the assassination in Paris the situation of the Jews in Germany was extremely acute. With the expulsion of Jewish trade representatives, travelling salesmen and hawkers, of Jewish doctors and lawyers, real estate agents and property managers, the income possibilities of the Jews were very limited. The daily liquidations of Jewish concerns made unemployed of the Jews still working in them. The moment of complete Jewish unemployment had come into view.

In the large cities, the orders to vacate apartments belonging to Aryans, particularly real estate companies, were common. In the middle size and small towns the Jews were compelled to sell their houses, which was the equivalent of being forced to leave town, because they could not find other homes there.

In parts of Bavaria, particularly around Wuerzburg, in Hesse and parts of the Rhine province, there were disorders since the middle of September. Entry of synagogues, attacks on Jewish houses, mistreatment, deportation from certain towns (Rothenburg and others)6On 22 Oct. 1938, NSDAP Kreisleiter Karl Steinacker ordered the removal of all Jews from Rothenburg ob der Tauber. SA men forced their way into Jewish homes, chased the Jews to the synagogue, and demanded they leave the city. were brought to the attention of the competent authorities, but nothing was ever done.

‘Das Schwarze Korps’, the weekly of the S.S. and therefore also of the Gestapo, pub- lished a complete program for the further handling of the Jewish question in Germany on November 2nd.7The author probably means the editorial ‘Das fehlte noch …’, Das Schwarze Korps, 3 Nov. 1938, pp. 1–2. This program anticipated the complete exclusion of the Jews from German economic life and the limitation of Jewish economic activities among the Jews themselves. In view of the occupational and geographic distribution of the Jews in Germany, this was tantamount to the annihilation of their economic existence. The estab- lishment of special residence sections for the Jews – ghettos – and the confiscation of Jewish wealth were also planned. An earlier number of the same paper proposed taking all unemployed Jews for forced labor service.

The assassination at the Embassy in Paris first [led] to the immediate closing down of the Jewish press and all Jewish gatherings, in order to isolate the Jews individually and make all exchange of opinion among them an impossibility. The death of Mr. vom Rath was the signal for an organized campaign against the Jewish population. This was directed by the Party and all Party leaders were in Munich. The campaign, in its scope and ordered plan, surpassed anything that has ever happened in the history of the Jewish people.

In the night of November 9th–10th, the following occurred:

All over Germany the synagogues were burned. The very few synagogues which were not set on fire – for example, three in Berlin8The synagogue in the Rykestraße in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg was spared from total destruction because it was located in a densely built-up area. A policeman prevented the complete destruction of the synagogue on Oranienburger Straße in Berlin-Mitte. – were saved only because they were built so closely between other houses that a fire would immediately have spread to the neighboring buildings. In certain cities, as Vienna, Beuthen, Breslau, Hannover and others, the incendiaries were not content with burning and blew up the synagogues. Together with the synagogues, many community houses and cemeteries were destroyed. The restoration of the synagogues is out of the question and the remains of those which have not been entirely burned will have to be torn down. There are no more religious services anywhere in Germany.

The same night, Jewish stores all over the Reich were demolished and in certain cases robbed. Wherever the work of destruction during the night was not thorough enough, as in Berlin, it was repeated the afternoon of November 10th. Merchandise was thrown on the street or completely ruined on the premises. In a large Jewish department store, for example, nothing at all was left of the porcelain, glass and bric a brac. The offices of this store were also demolished.

Not in Berlin, or at any rate only in small measure, but in very many cities the destruction was not limited to synagogues and Jewish stores, but the bands broke into private homes and destroyed the furniture more or less completely. Among other places, this happened in Duesseldorf, Bochum, Essen, Oberhausen, Hagen, Koenigsberg, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Beuthen, Hindenburg, Nuremberg, Rostock. In many Jewish homes, there was not a bit of furniture or other article intact after the attack. It was unavoidable that people were brutally maltreated and even killed, because of the fanatical fury of the hordes; besides, in most cases, they had been drinking heavily. Nor could suicides of desperate Jews, who did not know how to save themselves, be avoided.

On November 10th and 11th almost the entire Jewish male population between 17 and 60 years was arrested and sent to the concentration camps at Sachsenhausen near Oranienburg, Buchenwalde9Correctly: Buchenwald. near Weimar, Dachau in Bavaria and some others. Only in Berlin did a considerable number remain free, although here too there were several thousands [of] arrests. In many localities there was no age limit – men over 80 and 14 year old boys were taken. A few have since been freed, but not many. At the present time there must be at least 35,000 Jews in the concentration camps.

In the country and border districts the Jews were simply driven out. Usually they had to flee, leaving everything they possessed behind. They went to the nearest large towns, where they were lodged, although, as a result of the work of destruction, the inmates themselves were often living in close quarters. It appears out of the question that the refugees will be able to return to their homes, particularly as their houses have probably been destroyed. It has been learned that in one small place in the Eiffel mountains a tractor was driven into the small Jewish houses.

A great number of Jewish homes for children, schools, and other educational institutions, convalescent homes, sanatoria, and homes for the aged had to be vacated. The fate of the people in these institutions is the same as that of the refugees from the country districts.

What is to become of the Jews in the next few weeks is altogether uncertain. Even if the disorders as described above and the arrests are not continued, the basis of the existence of German Jewry has been wiped out. After January 1st 1939, the date by which all Jewish stores and artisan enterprises must be Aryanized or liquidated, there will be no income from work. There will be nothing left of Jewish wealth after payment for the repair of stores and homes and the collection of the billion mark fine and the sale of real property for a fraction of its value. In Berlin the wealthier people had to give five million marks to business people for repairs, these not being able to pay themselves, and ten million marks to cover the debts of the Community.10In addition to the ‘atonement fine’ of 1 billion Reichsmarks imposed on the Jewish community after the November pogroms (see Doc. 142, 12 Nov. 1938), the Reich Propaganda Office required Berlin’s Jews to pay a ‘voluntary fine’ of 5 million Reichsmarks, to be deposited into a special account at Deutsche Bank. See Martin Friedenberger, Fiskalische Ausplünderung: Die Berliner Steuer- und Finanzverwaltung und die jüdische Bevölkerung 1933–1945 (Berlin: Metropol, 2008), p. 218.

The notices to vacate will lead to masses being without a roof over their heads. In many localities the Jews will not be in a position to make the necessary purchases, not only because they will not have the necessary money, but also because the Aryan merchants and artisans are being forced to refuse to serve Jews.

As a ghastly bit of irony in the face of these terrible conditions, the Jewish Cultural League in Berlin was compelled to reopen its theater.

Koenigsberg: Not only were the children driven from the orphanage, but the interior of the house was completely demolished. The home for the aged, with 38 inmates between 64 and 89 years of age, had to be evacuated. The cemetery was left in such a condition that for days no funerals could take place. Finally, one man was permitted to carry out burials alone.

Hannover: A large cemetery chapel was blown up.

Rostock: All Jewish homes were completely destroyed. In the vicinity of this city cattle and supplies belonging to Jews were burned. Hildesheim: The arrested Jews were forced to sing about the burning synagogue.

Schneidemuehl, Kuestrin, Senftenberg: There were deaths among those arrested; four killed in Kuestrin alone.

Duesseldorf, Bochum: During the attacks the Jews were driven from their homes to the street, back home, and again to the street. There were cases of terrible brutality.

Rosenau: This town is located between Duesseldorf and Essen. The home for the aged had to be vacated at night.

Dinslaken: The same happened at the orphanage here.

[Bad] Soden (Taunus): This is likewise true of the T.B. sanatorium here. The patients were driven out at the point of revolvers.

Neu-Isenburg (near Frankfort-on-Main):11The author means Frankfurt am Main here and in the following. The home for mothers, infants, children and girls was set on fire on the afternoon of November 10th.12A home for uprooted Jewish girls and single mothers with children.

Mannheim: 90 per cent of the homes destroyed; in spite of this Mannheim is filled with refugees, principally from the Palatinate.13After 7 April 1933 the Mannheim Jewish Community became a centre for Jews in the region. Jews from the Palatinate sought advice and help from the city’s Jewish social institutions. On the night of 9 Nov. the Jewish hospital in Mannheim also became a place of refuge for the region’s Jews during the pogrom, especially after the Jewish old people’s home in Neustadt was set on fire. See Karl Otto Watzinger, Geschichte der Juden in Mannheim 1650–1945 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1984), pp. 63–73.

Frankfort-on-Main: As early as November 8th and 9th many Jews from Hesse, some of them badly wounded, entered Frankfort. Some were received at the Jewish hospital, which was constantly watched and searched by an S.S. doctor, in order to send away those who were not extremely sick. The chief surgeon of the hospital, together with his family, committed suicide.14Probably Dr Bernhard Rosenthal (1881–1938), who was in charge of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the hospital for the Jewish community in Frankfurt am Main. His wife Nora, née Strauss, did not commit suicide and emigrated to Britain. Everything was taken from the Community House. The Rothschild Museum was transferred to the Municipal Archives.15The collection at the Rothschild Museum documented the history of Frankfurt’s Jews and the Rothschild family. The relief organizations, placed in a special house, were for several days under a Commissar of the National Socialist relief, but were then closed. Only the Advisory Office of the Hilfsverein16German in the original: ‘Relief Association [of German Jews]’. is permitted to function, and this under a Commissar. Even as late as November 16th there were again house searches and arrests on a large scale.

Konstanz (Bodensee): There were cases of great brutality in the neighborhood of this city.

Nuremberg: Almost all homes were demolished. Some of the men were badly wounded at the time of their arrest. Fourteen deaths are known to have occurred in Nuremberg.

Munich: A Jew of Polish nationality was shot.17This was Joachim Both; see Doc. 136, 11 Nov. 1938, fn. 5.

Chemnitz: The owner of a large business was shot.18On the night of 9/10 Nov. 1938, SA and SS men shot and killed Hermann Fürstenheim, the manager of the H. & C. Tietz department store, at his home.

Leipzig: The cemetery was completely demolished.

Bomsdorf: A boy was shot at the training centre, because he did not reply to a question quickly enough.

Ellgut: This training farm in Upper Silesia had to be evacuated.

Grossbreesen: This training farm in Lower Silesia was severely damaged; the Director,19Curt Bondy (1894–1972), psychologist and social education worker; honorary professor at the Uni- versity of Göttingen, 1930–1933; worked at the centre for Jewish adult education, 1933–1936; director of the Groß-Breesen agricultural training farm for emigrants, 1936–1939; detained in the Buchen- wald concentration camp, Nov. 1938; emigrated to the USA, 1939; returned to Germany in 1950. Inspector20Inspector Erwin Scheier was responsible for agricultural training at Groß-Breesen. In Nov. 1938 he was arrested and taken to Buchenwald; he emigrated to Britain in 1939. and all boys over 18 years were arrested and sent to a concentration camp.

Neuendorf: All over 20 years were arrested and taken away from the training farm.

Caputh (near Berlin): The farm school had to be vacated on short notice. Because of the lack of transport facilities, the children had to go through the woods for several hours before they reached the railroad station.

Lehntiz (near Berlin): The convalescent home had to be evacuated. Very little is as yet known regarding treatment at the concentration camps. It is known, however, that preparations to receive the Jews had been made for a long time. Thus, for example, in Dachau there were more than 10,000 smocks with the Star of David. Among those arrested there are at least 100 rabbis, very many teachers and students of theology, the Director of the Weissensee Jewish Deaf and Dumb Institute in Berlin,21Felix Reich (1885–1964), son of Markus Reich, the founder of the Jewish Deaf and Dumb Institute; the institute’s director from 1919 to 1939; emigrated to Britain in 1939. many leading personages of the Jewish communities and organizations.

It must unfortunately be anticipated that the treatment at the concentration camp at Buchenwalde near Weimar is the same as it was known to be after the arrests last June.22On the arrests in June 1938, see Doc. 39, 1 June 1938, Doc. 52, June 1938, and the Introduction, p. 22.

Situation of Training Centres

Flensburg: Farmhouse destroyed; Germans arrested; girls and foreigners sent home.23Kibbutz Jägerlust, Flensburg; Jewish men with German citizenship were arrested.

Buergerhof: Farm intact; Germans arrested.24Probably Brüderhof, Ochsenzoll, on the outskirts of Hamburg.

Urfeld: House partially demolished; trainees had to leave everything; no work going on.

Gruesen: Various attacks; one man in Jewish hospital in Frankfort-on-Main; centre occupied by SS; Germans arrested; centre in great danger; house demolished.

Sennfeld: Reports contradictory; temporarily functioning.

Geringshof: Trainees over 20 years arrested.25Gehringshof (near Fulda); see Doc. 171, 23 Nov. 1938.

Bomsdorf: House destroyed; 16 year old boy shot; those over 18 arrested; commissar put in.

Silingtal: All men arrested; three women carrying on the work.

Ellguth: All Germans arrested; house not destroyed.

Jessen: O.K.26Kibbutz Jessen-Mühle, close to Sommerfeld (now Lubsko in Poland).

Neuendorf: 42 arrests; still functioning.27Neuendorf, near Fürstenwalde in Brandenburg.

Winkel: O.K.28Winkel farm estate, near Fürstenwalde in Brandenburg.

Ahrensdorf: O.K.29Ahrensdorf, near Luckenwalde in Brandenburg, opened in 1936; converted into a forced labour camp in 1940. The last young people from Ahrensdorf were relocated to Neuendorf in 1941 and from there deported to Auschwitz in 1943.

Havelberg: Some arrested, but later freed; centre functioning.

Steckelsdorf: Completely destroyed; older people all arrested.30Steckelsdorf, near Rathenow, 70 km west of Berlin; converted into a forced labour camp in 1940.

Halbe: Centre destroyed.31A municipality south of Berlin.

Polzenwerder: O.K.

Freienstein: All older people arrested; situation of centre unknown. Most of the Kibbuzim have been destroyed and the older people arrested.

Authenticated Material: The Source is Indicated by an Initial.32At the end of each report, the source is indicated by an initial that is not printed here.

Hagenow: Barns of Jewish estate owner were set on fire after the doors had first been carefully locked.

All stored products such as grain were destroyed and twelve cows burned to death. The owner – name of Jew unrevealed – was arrested for incendiarism.

Lichtenburg: Jewish inmates of concentration camp may neither write nor receive mail on account of Vom Rath murder.

Vienna: All Jewish temples demolished including the Seitenstettentempel which more than 100 yrs ago was dedicated in the presence of Emperor Francis Joseph, and in which Beethoven used to listen to the young composer-singer Salomon Sulzer.33The City Temple on Seitenstettengasse, consecrated in 1826, is the main synagogue in Vienna. The synagogue was set on fire but not destroyed because it was located in a residential area and the authorities did not want the fire to spread to the surrounding buildings.

Vienna: Thousands of Jewish homes were invaded – allegedly, as the press claimed, to search for weapons – and, in the absence of husbands, fathers, or brothers who had been dragged off to concentration camps, the jewelry demanded and robbed.

Old women were even deprived of their golden wedding rings, and impecunious old people of their dole from the relief station. Vienna: Before various consulates Jews who already had their promises of visas and their certificates (Unbedenklichkeitserklärung34Tax clearance certificate: see Doc. 206, 19 Dec. 1938.) from the tax offices, were nevertheless arrested.

Beatings were no uncommon thing as these persons reached the police or Gestapo headquarters.

Vienna: Many Jewish families were simply chased out of their homes, the doors locked, the keys taken by their Aryan persecutors. Men and women had to wander around the streets penniless through the night or beg for asylum.

The coffee houses and restaurants were generally forbidden to Jews, and instructions issued not to sell them any eatables.

Stuttgart: All male Jews who with their wives or other relatives had been summoned to appear before the American consul on Monday November 14, were arrested from the pensions or homes the night before so that they could not make their appointment. The next morning the American consul found several hundred Jewish women, relatives of the arrested, on their knees before him, imploring him to liberate the arrested.

Karlsruhe: The children of the Jewish Children’s home were turned out of their beds and chased on the street.

Mannheim: The inmates of the Jewish Home for the Aged were turned out of their rooms and out of the Home.

Wartenstein/East Prussia: Local burgomaster35The author means ‘Bürgermeister’, i.e. mayor. himself carried the torch which lighted the synagogue.

Berlin: Nine Aryans were arrested in Dahlem Nov. 10 for saying that they were ashamed at what happened.

Ministry of Economics sent ten staff members of Regierungsrat36German in the original, senior civil service rank. rank on to the streets to make an investigation into what depredations had been committed [on] Nov. 10.

Himmler took four weeks’ leave just before the ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations began, leaving the work to Heyderich,37Correctly: Heydrich. so that he might afterwards claim an alibi. Heyderich worked closely with the Arbeitsfront38German in the original: ‘[German] Labour Front’. in this matter.

At Sachsenhausen heads of Jews brought there were shaven, they were treated like swine, men with criminal records were put in charge of each barrack as monitors or ‘Stubenälteste’, and striped uniforms were given [to] the arrivals.

Barracks for many thousands had been standing in readiness for weeks to receive the Jews, and one of those in charge of these barracks was heard to exclaim, ‘Well, at last’, when the first transport of Jews arrived.

Vienna: Nov. 16 report: From hundreds of Jewish homes the inmates were simply dumped upon wealthier Jewish families with larger and more rooms. The apartments of those thus evicted were simply seized by German Labor Front people.

Thousands were compelled to sell their entire interior furnishings for 1/30th or 1/40th of the value and considered themselves lucky if they got even that much.

Hundreds of Jews had to sit on park benches in the cold nights as they had no places to go to. Wealthy Jews were seen taking their good suits of clothes to pawnshops, so that they might realize enough to keep their families from starving. All their bank accounts, valuables, cash, and stocks and bonds had been taken from them.

Moedling near Vienna: The Jews, were compelled to throw the ‘Thorarollen’39German in the original: ‘Torah scrolls’. and prayer books into the flames of the burning synagogue.

Hamburg: Two trainloads of Jews, altogether about 1,700 men, were transferred to Berlin headed for the concentration camp.

Leipzig: After the arrest of all men, the women and children were driven into the river where they had to stand for hours in the cold water.

Berlin: The Labor Front demanded that all hotels refuse to take Jewish patrons. The small hotels agreed, but the big ones declared that on account of their international clientele they could not comply.

Vienna: Nazis entered many homes and said: ‘We’ll give you 400 Marks for your entire household. If you approve, okay, if not, we’ll have you taken to Dachau!’

Sachsenhausen: Food is halfway good. The barracks are heated. But the treatment is barbaric. The Jews must work ten hours per day doing very heavy work, especially carrying steel girders.

Buch[en]wald: The first transport of Jews which arrived in this concentration camp, noted for its ‘S S Whipping Regiment’, had to stand in line for twelve hours. If anybody had a weak bladder or bowels, and consequently could not resist a call of nature, he was punished by 25 strokes of the whip for the offence of soiling his clothes.

Mannheim: No Jew is allowed to buy any food or drink in any Aryan shop. There are no Jewish shops, as all have been demolished.

Munich: Jewish shops were pillaged. Jews were forbidden to purchase food in Aryan shops. Hundreds of Jews were ordered to leave the district by Saturday, Nov. 12. (police denied this but the Party insisted.) Nazis entered Jewish homes and took the radio outfits with them, saying these were ‘deutsches Kulturgut’.40German in the original: ‘German cultural treasures’.

The banks were instructed to let Jews take out of their accounts not more than 100 RM. per week.

Breslau: Jewish telephones were plugged and no calls by them accepted. One wealthy family consisting of three branches …41The sentence is incomplete in the original.

Events in Berlin
November 10–14, 1938

Immediately after the celebration ‘for the fallen members of the movement’, the synagogues in the entire Reich were set on fire with firebombs during the night of November 9th and 10th. Simultaneously the fire brigades appeared to protect the adjacent buildings. The news spread like wildfire amongst the Jews, who at first could not grasp the extent thereof. They hurried to the synagogues and breathed a sigh of relief as they saw the fire engine from the distance. Patiently they waited for the fire brigade to do something, but they soon understood the awful truth – the fire brigade only looked on. One dared to ask, ‘Why don’t they do something?’ ‘We have no orders,’ replied a fireman. The Jew was immediately arrested by the Gestapo.

In some instances, the Jews begged for permission to rescue the Scrolls of the Law from the fire, but all who came near and showed their interest in this, were arrested. ‘The Scrolls of the Law should be destroyed’, said softly a policeman, ‘It is ordered.’ With great din the cupola of the new ‘Prinz Regent’ synagogue fell and the fire in the Friedenstempel42German in the original: ‘Temple of Peace’. in the Fasanenstrasse raged on for a long time.

Meanwhile the storm troopers [were] sent to all Jewish stores, smashing the windows. This ‘work’ was carried out by young boys from 16 to 19 years of age. There was no difficulty in choosing Jewish shops, as these, by police regulation, are all marked with uniform large letters and inscriptions. The organization of the pogrom was model. After this preliminary work, groups of adults of six men, – S.A. and S.S. troops in civilian clothes, – came along and walked in through the open windows, plundering the shops. They kicked over all the shelves and cupboards, and with crow-bars demolished everything. The population looked on silently in disapproval, but seldom did anyone dare to object aloud. The S.A. and S.S. men in civilian clothes threatened any who criticized with such cries, ‘You probably want to protect these Jew-dogs, eh?’ In fear the people remained quiet.

While the plundering and robbing was going on in the businesses in the West End, the young troopers broke into the apartments in the North and Eastern part of the city, rescuing the valuable objects and demolishing the rest.

I happened to be in a small vegetable store in the center of the city toward noon as the son of the proprietor, (a woman), came in bringing a huge package of boxes. As he turned to go with a large stick in his hand, the woman said to him, ‘Why do you do this my son? What if the police sees you?’ To which the boy replied, ‘But what then, what then. I have a slip giving me permission.’

Toward four o’clock in the afternoon, the newspapers appeared with an order from Goebbels to cease the plundering. This gave many the courage to approach the plunderers and to call the order to their attention. A man next to me, at 8 in the evening, as the plunderers were carrying things out of a Jewish restaurant in the Joachimstalerstrasse, shouted ‘Stop! Goebbels has ordered this to cease.’ But a man with a crow-bar, irritatedly replied, ‘I have the order from the President of the police, and will show you at once.’ The first man disappeared after this, and the plundering continued until all Jewish shops without exception had been destroyed.

Meanwhile, the Jewish organizations were demolished, locked, and the leaders arrested. The documents, particularly certificates43This refers to immigration certificates for Palestine. and emigration papers, were confiscated or destroyed. Their funds were also confiscated. The Jewish Museum was expropriated, the director, Professor Landsberger,44Dr Franz Landsberger (1883–1964), art historian; professor in Breslau, 1919–1933; editor of the journal Schlesische Monatshefte, 1917–1933; director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, 1935–1938; interned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Nov. 1938; emigrated to Britain in 1939 and later to the USA, where he worked as a research professor. was arrested. The offices and rooms of the Gemeinde45German in the original: ‘Jewish Community’. were sealed by the Gestapo.

The following day, the owners of the Jewish businesses were ordered by the police to board up their shops by 11 a.m. and to clear up all the disorder caused by their own fault. After this, the owners were ‘advised’ to speed up the ‘Aryanization’ of their businesses. On the boardings signs appeared, saying, ‘In the process of Aryanization.’ The businesses were transferred at ridiculous prices. Behind the boarded-up windows people sat, broken, – people who yet a day before had hoped for a better future elsewhere, who were busy with emigration plans, and who hoped to sell their businesses in a normal way. And now they were being arrested according to a well-organized plan. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, professionals, important businessmen, artists, – everyone well known and respected among German Jewry. After that the Stateless Jews (former Russians) were all arrested. On the third day, i.e. November 14th, the number of persons arrested amounted to more than a hundred thousand.46In fact, 25,000–30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps after the November pogroms; from Berlin, around 10,000. If the people wanted were not at home, two officials waited until these unsuspecting persons came back. This is what is called ‘The Traps for the Jews’. Special attention was given to the rich Jews. The proprietors of houses were ‘instructed’ to go to the lawyer with the officials and to declare in front of him their ‘voluntary’ transfer to the State of their property. Even the sick in the hospitals were not exempted. The people who were very ill died after their arrest. Those arrested were taken in large numbers to the concentration camps – in the meantime these arrests still continue at the same rate. The frightened people, who had lost all of their possessions, tried to save themselves and hoped to find shelter with their Aryan friends. But those who helped the Jews were punished by being arrested and now the people are roaming through the streets or in the environs in the fog. The hunt for Jews, which is similar to that of chasing the fox, is a special pleasure for the pleasure hunting S.A. and S.S. troops. I have spoken to some of the despairing people. If no help comes from outside, then they would prefer to take their lives than fall in[to] the hands of the Gestapo.

On the 15th November arrests are still continuing with undiminished violence. This is intended to be a pressure on the payment of a billion marks. 

This document is part of:
German Reich 1938–August 1939 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2019)