Dad’s experiences at Kristallnacht

Dad’s story was also published in Sir Martin Gilbert’s book on page 110.

I was 9 years old a the time but remember everything as if it were today.

At about 2 in the morning having been asleep, I was woken up very
roughly and rudely by a man in brown uniform which I recognised his being a man of the S.A. (Stormtrooper). He and his mates broke into our apartment, broke down the door and got everyone up, shouting get up and dressed and out in the road. I was the eldest of 4 children, the youngest were twin girls of 2 years.

Well with all the shouting and screaming, we all got dressed and in the street were marched to a plaza in the middle of the town. It was freezing cold, foggy, and the sky was red and the air smelled of something burning. When I wanted to ask questions they yelled at me to keep quiet and walk. The streets were covered in glass shards and every now and again I saw bits of furniture, books, etc
lying in the road. Having arrived in that plaza we had to stand
in rows, nobody was allowed to say and even whisper anything to anyone, and finally about 6 or so in the morning, having stood there for at least 3 hours, we were all marched to a sports hall.

There must have been about 1000 people or even more, of all ages
from babies in prams to old people with canes. Having arrived in
this sports hall, again we had to stand and men were separated from their wives and families. About 7 or so in the morning, one of these brown-shirts came to my mother and told her to go home with us but not to talk to anyone in the street. It was just about getting light.

When we got home we found the apartment in relative good order. The front door was of course broken. However, my father was not with us, and I asked my mother what happened to him and she said she had no idea. Obviously, there was no question of going to school. We actually had an apartment above the school building since my father was the director of the school.

At some time later in the day, he appeared at home and I could not recognise him at first as his beard had been shaved off. He said that the Gestapo told him to go home since he was the director of the school, and re-open the school as soon as possible as the law of the land demanded that children go to school. However, I do want to add that there were some men of the community I never saw again. Most of the men were sent to a concentration camp, Buchenwald or Dachau and possibly others. Some came back after some weeks but only for a short time. Most were released if they had possibility of emigrating from Germany and to get a release from a camp, they had to show that they have got or could get a visa imminently.

This in brief is my story, but of course there are many more details which cannot be added here due to shortage of space.

8 Responses to Dad’s experiences at Kristallnacht

  1. Jason says:

    Annie – I’m a historian working on a project that touches upon not only your father but your grandfather (who I assume to be Fritz Prager – the head of the school). Is there a way I can get in touch with you via email?

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