Refuse Heap Is Archive for Night of Hatred (Germany)

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LANDORF, Germany — Seventy years ago next month, rioters wreaked havoc on their Jewish neighbors, destroying and burning thousands of synagogues, businesses and homes across the nation.

W. Michael Blumenthal, the former United States treasury secretary who now is the director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, was 12 then, but still has sharp memories of the night of Nov. 9, 1938. Looters destroyed his parents’ store in Berlin, and his father was among the 30,000 men from 16 to 60 rounded up and sent to concentration camps that night.

“The ninth of November is a symbol because it was the beginning of the end,” Mr. Blumenthal said of Kristallnacht, a Nazi euphemism meaning “night of broken glass.”

Curiously, though, physical evidence of the state-sponsored pogrom has always been extremely scarce. The Jewish Museum, for example, holds many letters describing the night. But the only other related object in its collection is a 38-second black-and-white film of a synagogue burning in Bielefeld, a university town in western Germany.

Last week, however, an Israeli researcher reported finding a trove of such evidence — piles of looted Jewish possessions — in this town 30 miles north of Berlin.

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