Nazi Kristallnacht against Jews remembered as living memory fades

Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:09am EST
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By Georgina Prodhan

VIENNA (Reuters) - Lilly Drukker was 11 years old when two uniformed Nazis barged into her family's Vienna apartment in November 1938 to take her father away to the Dachau concentration camp.

It was the day after Kristallnacht, a state-sponsored spree of looting and destruction of Jewish property across Germany and Austria that marked a turning point in Nazi policy as Adolf Hitler unleashed the general population against the Jews.

"The two Nazis looked us over and after a while - this was November 10th, it was cold out - they told my father to get his hat and coat and said: 'You're coming with us,'" Drukker told Reuters on a visit to Vienna from her home in Philadelphia.

"We saw from the window how they got out of the building and pushed my father into the back seat of the car that was parked in front and drove away," she said. "We didn't know where they took him or what was happening. There were rumors."

Scores of Jews were killed in the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), and thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues were ransacked as law-enforcement organs looked on, signaling the start of the Holocaust.

The 75th anniversary of the infamous pogrom is being marked with ceremonies in Berlin, Vienna and elsewhere this weekend.

Events such as the coming to light last weekend of a huge hidden trove of Nazi-looted art show that many questions and claims for restitution arising from the Holocaust and World War Two remain unresolved.

But the nature of remembrance is changing as governments absorb the work once done by activists, and the focus switches from bringing the perpetrators to justice to educating a generation growing up as the events fade from living memory.   Continued...

Members of the young Jewish community attend a commemoration ceremony for Holocaust victims in front of the synagogue in Vienna November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger