The legacy of Kristallnacht [Letter]

November 13, 2013

Regarding your recent article on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, I was living in the small East Prussian town of Osterode at the time and recall that infamous day as if it were yesterday ("Germany marks Kristallnacht's 75th anniversary asking: What tips a society into madness?" Nov. 8).

In this small town the beautiful synagogue was destroyed. My first class in the morning was a geography class, and the first words that my teacher spoke were "at last." We kids only looked at each other in amazement, even though some of us were leaders in the Hitler Youth. Our sense of decency prevailed.

When the storm troopers called the SA stood guard in front of a Jewish clothing store in Osterode and tried to prevent people from entering, one of the women living on my street stuck out her tongue at them. Her photo was displayed in Der Sturmer, the anti-Semitic Nazi publication. Yet she was not arrested.

I am telling these stories to let people who did not live during that time know that there were many differences from place to place. Among my high school teachers there were three who had been fired as principals because they would not join the Nazi party. Yet they continued to teach.

Also, Berlin's beautiful gold domed synagogue was not touched during Kristallnacht. The police chief for that district, whose photo is displayed in the synagogue today, had the building surrounded by police who prevented the SA troopers from destroying this architectural landmark and house of God. Tragically, the synagogue was destroyed during an Allied air raid on Berlin during World War II.

Also, when we rightfully commemorate those tragic events of November 1939 we should also celebrate the November day in 1989 when East Germans proved their love for freedom and democracy through a unique peaceful revolution that eventually ended in the reunification of Germany as a stable and reliable democracy.

Armin E. Mruck, Towson

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