Samstag, 9. November 2013

Remember, remember... the 9th of November

What a day in our country's history!

In 1918, the Kaiser abdicated, and Germany was proclaimed a republic. 

In 1938, the discrimination of Jews in Nazi Germany turned into open violence. During the "Kristallnacht" (the "crystal night"), Jewish shops were destroyed and many synagogues were burnt down or at least seriously damaged. Many were killed, over 30 000 Jews were arrested. Though the name "Kristallnacht" may be a euphemism, I am one of those who still prefer it to the word "pogrom", because "pogrom" sounds too impersonal to me when you think of what happened.

1989, the Wall came down. Finally. Peacefully.

When you take a look at German media these days, you'll realize that the event most covered in articles and TV magazines is the Kristallnacht. 1918 is almost forgotten, or so it seems, and at least the adults still remember 1989.

In my hometown, Werther, there had been a pretty active Jewish community since the 1700s. The synagogue was built about 1840 in the backyard of house no. 21, which had been bought in 1820 by Salomon Marcus Grewe from my ancestors, Wilhelm Pott gen. Törner and Elisabeth née Esser. For a long time, this site was know as "Törnersches Haus" ("Törner's House"). I have no idea why Wilhelm and Elisabeth sold it.  Their seven children had been born there between 1800 and 1816, and there were also children from Wilhelm's first marriage. Wilhelm and Elisabeth moved to Wallenbrück and died there in 1825 and 1845, respectively. Wilhelm was a carpenter or cabinetmaker.

The Werther synagogue was severely damaged in 1938, but if I get it right not until November 10. Werther is quite rural, and it seems like it took a day more to have the pogrom organized. What I need to mention here is that as it seems, SA men were brought in from other places to do their "work". Apparently, this was a common practice so the SA men wouldn't be recognized by their next door neighbors. The only reason why the synagogue wasn't set on fire was because it was right in the middle of town - and right next to the pharmacy. What was left of the building was torn down after WWII. It couldn't be saved.

This was the time my grandparents and many of my greatgrandparents were still alive. Most of them lived in Werther or Halle. I have no idea what they were up to Nazi Germany. What did they know? What did they think? Were they in favor of Hitler or did they find him disgusting? 

I'd  like to find out, but it's difficult. My parents can't tell me; they are too young. My mom was born after the end of WWII, and my father just a few years earlier. All the others are gone.

This is still something I need to work on. Am I afraid of what I'm going to find? No, I'm not. What I'm interested in is the history of my family. I want to know what happened, no matter if good or bad. I'm not here to judge, but to tell what happened. 

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