'SHATTERED: POGROM, NOVEMBER 1938'
THE WIENER LIBRARY’S NEW EXHIBITION
Leah Sidebotham, The Wiener Library
Thousands of Jewish women, men and children brutalised. 25,000 Jewish men deported to concentration camps. Over 1,200 synagogues desecrated. Thousands of Jewish businesses and homes looted and destroyed. Over 100 Jews murdered.
All images in this article: The Wiener Library
The events of 9-10 November 1938, commonly called Kristallnacht, are the focus of The Wiener Library’s new temporary exhibition. Eighty years after Kristallnacht, the Library hopes that this exhibition will shed light on how exactly those brutal events unfolded and highlight the desperate attempts of German and Austrian Jews to flee Nazism in the days and months that followed. Through the eyewitness accounts gathered by Library staff shortly after Kristallnacht, the exhibition examines responses to this unprecedented, nationwide campaign of violence. Never-before-seen documents from the Library’s collection demonstrate German and Austrian Jews’ desperate attempts to flee, in many cases as refugees to Britain.
A small brass Hanukiah
One of the most poignant items on display is a Hanukiah, kindly loaned by Helen Stone for the duration of the exhibition. The Hanukiah originated from the synagogue in the small German village of Kommern which served just twelve Jewish families. During the November Pogrom an eleven year-old non-Jewish girl, Maria Klee, whose family took care of the synagogue, passed by the ruins and found a still smouldering brass Hanukiah among them. She wrapped it in her dress, and took it home, where the family hid it for 70 years.
Thanks to the help of a local German teacher in Kommern, in 2009 Maria found Emmy Golding, whose family had escaped the village for England in 1939. Maria gave the Hanukiah to Emmy when they met. Maria died after their reunion, and Emmy died in 2010, after which the Hanukiah passed into the possession of Helen Stone and her family.
First-hand testimony and accompanying digital resources
Also on display at the exhibition is the Library’s collection of first-hand testimony collected by the Jewish Central Information Office (as The Wiener Library was then known) in the immediate days and weeks following the November Pogrom. The immediacy and power of these documents is conveyed in the words of people who had seen Nazi violence against Jews.
While all 350 reports have been available online, both in German and in English since November 2015, in order to coincide with the eightieth anniversary we are pleased to announce new features including live integration with the Library’s Collections Catalogue, multi-faceted search and an enhanced glossary.