The International School for Holocaust Studies
48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust – An Oral History
Reviewed by Kathryn Berman
Mitchell G. Bard, PhD.
The Lyons Press, 2008
Published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of this pivotal event, Bard uses eyewitness accounts of those who were young children and teenagers to describe the incidents that took place on November 9-10, 1938, which became known as the Kristallnacht pogrom, or the "Night of the Broken Glass". By reading these accounts, and thus conveying the vivid and horrifying memories of these young people as their worlds fell apart, readers can relate to the narrative and try to understand the events of that time.
Several survivors give accounts of their Bar Mitzvahs – the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony at 13 years of age. One such survivor is Henry Glaser, whose father had been picked up by the Gestapo during the Kristallnacht pogrom and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. One year later, Henry had celebrated his bar mitzvah in Berlin without his father.
We read about Ursula Rosenfeld, just 13 years old when the Nazis arrested her father. She had eaten dinner with him the night before the Kristallnacht pogrom. Taken to Buchenwald, where he was killed, his ashes were later return to the family in an urn. Not knowing whether they were his ashes or belonged to someone else, he was buried in the Jewish cemetery. The family had to pay for the ashes.
A chapter on righteous Germans describes those brave enough to help the unfortunate Jewish families after the Kristallnacht pogrom.
Heinrich Muller's orders to all Gestapo offices transmitted at 11:55 PM November 9th and Heydrich's instructions for the Kristallnacht pogrom dated November 10, 1938 are printed at the end of the book. These documents leave little doubt as to what was intended for German and Austrian Jewry, and indeed signalled the beginning of the end for European Jewry in the ensuing years.