Tonight marks 71 years since the two-day Nazi pogrom later known as Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass.
In many ways, the term is a euphemistic preview of the sanitary language the Nazis adopted while carrying out the genocide of the Jews.
In all, the Nazis had close to 20 words for murder, all of which attempted to mask the action’s brutal nature.
In the case of Kristallnacht, while it is true that the glass of shops, synagogues and homes were indeed shattered, the officially sanctioned damage perpetrated across Germany did far worse damage to Jewish people’s lives.
After weathering a storm of international condemnation, Hitler decided to fine the Jews for having their property destroyed.
Although at the Evian conference in June 1938 the Dominican Republic was the only country to open to large-scale Jewish immigration-this was due in large part to Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo wanting to lighten his population-the British government did respond after Kristallnacht.
The response eventually was called the Kindertransport, or child transport. Under this program, about 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia between the ages of 4 to 17 were allowed to enter England.
My father and uncle were two of them.
The Kindertransport has been the subject of a number of books, films and even a play.
I Came Alone is a collection of first-person recollections edited by the indefatigable Bertha Leverton. Leverton, who just moved to Israel in July at the age of 86 to be nearer her 10 grand children and 16 great-granchildren, was also the driving force behind the Kindertransport reunions that have taken place during the past two decades.
Kindertransport by Diane Samuels is a play that talks about the haunting impact children’s being separated from their parents had on all parties. Tom Piper, a friend from when I lived in Oxford, England in 1979, did the stage design for one of the play’s original productions in England.
The Children of Willesden Lane, by Mona Golabeck. This book is told by the daughter of a Kindertransport survivor who recounts her mother’s experience. Golabeck is an accomplished pianist who at times does a performance piece based on the book.
Into the Arms of Strangers, by Deborah Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was the producer of this Academy Award-winning film and The George Lopez Show. The film takes the viewer through various Kinder’s experiences before, during and after the program.