Kristallnacht – May We Never Forget

Greetings all –

November 9, 1938 is known as the Night of Broken Glass – Kristallnacht – when Nazi antisemitism went from laws and edicts of persecution and pockets of aggression to a full scale frenzy of tormenting, vandalizing, attacking, harassing, arresting, and terrorizing Jewish German citizens.  Covert hatred went overt and thus Kristallnacht is often marked as the beginning of the Shoah.

It is still unfathomable to me that the Holocaust took place during modern times.  For our young folks it will seem like eons ago but in the scope of humans on this planet it really is very very very recent history.  How was it possible that a country went insane and many other countries went insane along side it?  How is it possible that we did not bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz,  how is it possible that 1.5 million Jewish children were exterminated in the name of racial hygiene and progress and nationalism?

How is it possible that so many remained silent?   How is it possible that so many looked the other way?  How is it possible that so many PARTICIPATED and COLLABORATED?  How is it possible that some did resist?  How is it possible that some did rebel?  How is it possible that some did protect, hide, and do the right thing at great personal peril and the peril of their own little ones?

And how is it possible that the survivors – survived to love again?

This is the thing that has always amazed me – this ability to love and not hate in the face of such great inhumanity, overwhelming injustice, crushing and debilitating evil.

So on this anniversary of such a blot on our existence on this planet – we must remember so we never forget and so when world leaders try to deny the truth and facts, it is they who are proven to be crazy and not the righteous and the good and the true.  And we must remember the Deaf and CODA Jews who perished in the Shoah and those who survived.

Imagine urself being a Jewish Deaf child in Germany on November 9, 1938.  What did you see, what did you understand, how could ANYONE help u make sense of this when it was such a senseless thing?

Think of David Bloch who was rounded up and sent to Dachau – only later to be able to exit to Shanghai, China (the port of last resort for many European Jews), which was later invaded by Japan.

Think of Hilda Rattner who saw with alarm and grave concern raising antisemitism in her dignified and cultured Vienna, Austria and the burning of their Shul when Krystillnacht broke out.

Think of Ingelore H. who suffered increased hostilities at her non-Jewish Deaf school when the glass was shattered and was sent off home on the train alone to watch burned buildings and shattered storefronts as she moved across the landscape only to arrive to a bordered up doorfront and her father detained at Dachau.

Think of Doris F. who saw more and more German Jews coming to her town and how she worried aloud to a teacher “will there be war in Poland” to which the teacher replied “oh dont be foolish.”  No one believed it would ever get that bad and that big.Think of Doris hiding anywhere anyway in the ghetto, in the camp, and in a chicken coop.

Think of CODA Elizabeth D. and her Deaf mother being torn from her and then being informed her mother would be coming out of the chimney soon.  Think of the form the Nazis made Elizabeth sign to “volunteer” to be experimented on in Block 10 of Auschwitz.

Think of the fear, think of the terror, think of the hopelessness, think of the hate.

There are more stories.  There are more lives that were forever altered and more lives that were forever ended and more lives that were forever prevented from materializing.

We don’t like to think about it – but we must.  For if we do not, then we and thee will not know what came before and will not see the signs of genocide in time.

Never again we say.  Today and tomorrow so that there will be a today and a tomorrow for all of us.

For video interviews and text summaries of Deaf and CODA survivors of the Shoah go to:

click VIDEOS and click Deaf Survivors

May the glass never be shattered in hate again.


17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Mayes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 11:14:18

    I had never heard of Holocaust until I was in tweens, when I came across the documentary book about it, with pictures, in the library. I was gripped by the photos, shocked, etc. I grew up in the heavily Jewish populated city, plus the growing population of black, so I more or less was exposed to many things (University City, Missouri.) I carpooled with a Deaf Jewish girl who attended CID with me… her family was Hasidic as I recall and there were many children and she had to wear dress all the time, as I remember.

    I had a honor to work at Vegetarian Hotel in Catskill Mts. where it observed Kosher rules, etc. and I had a chance to meet several elderly people who shared their stories with me… a few of them survivors, but most of them had relatives who either died or survived. Later I had a honor again, to live with a Conservative family in New Hampshire during my college “gap” where I learned more how Jews lived. They took me to their synagogue a few times and when their relatives who practiced Hasidism visited, they asked me to stay at the hotel, etc. It was an interesting experience for me… yes, he was courteous, but very reserved toward me… I was not “one of them”.

    From them, I have come to appreciate Judaism and its strong influence on our way of thinking, our understanding of tolerance, freedom, acceptance… same as black people.

    Good blog…

  2. handeyes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 13:10:48


    Thank you for all you have shared here. Sad that many schools do not teach in-depth about the Holocaust. There is much to learn there. One of the most influential books I ever read in my youth was “The Hiding Place” – it really did shape and solidify a great deal of my value sets and my mother originally forbid me from reading it. She worried it would be too much for me to absorb but of course the taboo of it increased the lure and i convinced her : ). Later when the film came out again she was like – “no, not for u.” And she was probably right because to me words and books r always more powerful than films. Even though im a movie media freak ; ).

    I am glad u had all those rich experiences living along side and in the homes of Jewish people. Judaism and Jewish culture are beautiful and rich and have much to teach us. As does African-American culture, Deaf culture etc.

    I am very grateful that Steven Spielberg set up the Shoah Foundation, which video interviewed over 50,000 survivors’ stories. Of which only a few are Deaf survivors – they can be seen at the link in the blog entry under VIDEOS then click SHOAH.

    You and your kids might be interested in the graphic memories by Art Spiegelman Maus I and II. They are used in a lot of HS and college lit. and history course as class textbooks.

    I pulled a “mommy” when our kids wanted to read Maus I and II – i was hesitant to let them just as my mother before me was re: “The Hiding Place.” But one day i came upon N reading them in his room. I worried and fretted but as u have said before – our children are often our best teachers. Let them lead. They know when they r ready for stuff even if we r not. (of course i kept the books at work for the longest time to avoid N stumbling upon them when he would have been way too young – the kid reads EVERYTHING and graphic novels are a total attraction to him)

    N and Z gobbled up both books in a day. I could go on and one about Maus I and II – they are very important, layered with many truths, feature the Catskills ; ), and always make me long for graphic novels re: the Deaf experience.

    Thanks again for all u shared Karen and all u stand for.



  3. Dianrez
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 14:18:59

    World history only skimmed over this in high school books back in the 60’s. I read more on it soon after that, probably because of meeting a Holocaust survivor, an Israeli woman in university. She was a classmate and we passed notes in lab quite often. Her left arm had numbers tattooed on it, much distorted probably because she was not fully grown at the time…I guessed she must have been about 12.

    Even though readings have filled me in on the horrors somewhat, I still have difficulty grasping how it could actually happen. How people could stand by, avoid knowledge, not ask questions. How they could view rabid anti-Semitic propaganda about their friends and not say anything. How could neighbors disappear and nobody inquire about it. As an American, I have trouble with people accepting things because of fear of the government.

    There is safety in numbers, though. If a great many people get together to protest strange things going on, no totalitarian government can withstand persistent questioning.

  4. Stephen Hodder
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 16:17:52

    I could not escape the acknowledgment of the Holocaust as a child growing up on the east coast in the 50’s and 60’s. I knew too many adults with numbers tattooed on their arms and my parents explained what those numbers meant.

    Unfortunately the “Never again” promise was not kept. We may not have seen anything on the scale of the Holocaust but we have plenty of smaller reminders to keep us aware of what we are capable of.

  5. finlake
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 18:31:10

    This is good juicy stuff. Never knew it was the anniversary. I have met a holocaust survivor when I was a high school kid.

    I can still remember how I felt as if it was yesterday. I remember being completely jaw-socked and staring/listening to the survivor telling her story of being in concentration camp. yep, she was Deaf. her daughter was my teacher.

    thanks for covering this subject, albeit it’s quite sensitive and i sincerely hope we’ll -NEVER- see this atrocity ever again.

  6. Candy
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 19:36:29

    My mom loved history and she would share story about holocaust. Learned of Anne Frank when I was very young. However, I have never heard of Kristallnacht. Never, never again…indeed.

  7. Don G.
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 20:34:15

    Simon Wiesenthal and Elie Wiesel and all the survivors of the Shoah would be proud of you. Thank you for continuing to bear witness as to its horrors.

    And, your opening paragraphs made me think about our own Deaf community — those of us who stood by as the world around them erupted in madness…. we have to work to prevent this in small ways as well as large….

  8. handeyes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 22:12:33

    heye Dianrez –

    there were alot of noble efforts to rebel and resist – resistance groups, underground movements – White Rose comes to mind and many others. Folks were REALLY fearful – Nazi youth turned in their own parents, folks were beheaded and hung left and right and then the families where presented with the bill for the executions, also antisemitism wasnt really a novel concept – it existed in Europe long before Nazism.

    Milgram after ww II hypothized that there was an inherent character flaw in the German people that made them more likely to follow authority – he set out to test a base line in the US before testing his electric shock experiment on the Germans – only problem was he found out that U.S. folks would shock up to 450 volts max if the guy in the white lab coat told them to do it so his theory kinda went kaput. Zimbardo’s prison study also shows obedience and power and what good folks will do in bad situations.

    This is why prevention is so imperative – to stop stuff before it really goes too kooky.

    Gandhi had preached the power of civil disobedience in Nazi Germany. I do not know. I am a firm believer and lover of direct peaceful confrontation but when the govt has guns and uses them en mass – i am unsure about how effective any collective civil disobedience would work.

    If we look at the monks in Tibet the students in Tianamen Square and many many other examples too sad to think on – i do not know if Gandhi’s methods would work in the face of GREAT EVIL.

    re: ur co-workers tatoo

    they were very crude in how they put them on and as we age and grow our skin changes so…

    one of the sickest things i ever read was about a commandant of one of the camps – his wife’s “collection” of the tattoos of prisoners. If they were particularly interesting and unique she would have them removed and tanned for her scrapbook etc

    sorry to share this – it is really sick

    there is far worse

    when i research and learn about the Holocaust – i am always crying. literally

    thank u for ur note


  9. handeyes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 22:29:50

    Heye finlake –

    very glad ur school had a Deaf survivor talk with u – its REAL important and more more we have fewer and fewer survivors able to share directly with our students.

    I always admire those who can – many can not talk about it.

    Many more did not live to tell.

    Re: never again – as another commentor points out – it has happened since then on smaller scales and is Horrible so never again is an ideal we all must work towards

    thanks for stopping by



  10. handeyes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 23:26:23

    heye Stephen –

    thank u for the reminder of the fact that we have many reminders that it does still happen and “never again” is hollow without our working to make it true

    thankfully never again at the scale as was the Shoah but still there have been several genocides since the end of WW II and many folks have not done anything about it

    i had a survivor of the genocide in Sudan speak with my students once – i cried when he spoke of being reunited with his mother years later and her trying to put him back into her lap as if a child

    he also spoke of seeing Deaf folks be shot as they ran to cross the river due to not hearing the gun fire and not knowing enuf to stay down

    Genocides and wars are always brutal – most especially to children, women, and disenfranchised folks

    A few years ago Dr. Harry Markowitz a Hearing scholar and professor at Gallaudet was sharing about on online collaborative education experience and he said “when the students we asked – What have we learned from the Holocaust? We all agreed – NOTHING.”

    I knew i would love this man. someone who he himself is a survivor and can teach about this subject and can be brutally honest too.

    I have learned much from studying the Holocaust and talking with the survivors but we really truly have learned nothing if we do nothing to prevent and/or stop current ones.



  11. handeyes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 23:30:41

    Heye candy

    very glad ur mom shared that info with u

    Re: Anne Frank – it is heartbreaking – her family almost made it. Truly just unbelievably bad that they were betrayed. HBO made a special recreating what were most likely Anne’s days after they were found and deported

    oh i cried – powerful film. have not shown to my kids. would not could not.

    we did go see the boy with stripped pajamas together and there i was bawling me eyes out

    same as when i show documentaries in class (the Last Days is unbelievable)

    thank u for caring about this topic

    it is a hard one



  12. handeyes
    Nov 10, 2010 @ 23:36:51

    heye don

    re: being proud of me – that is very kind of u but i have done very very little to be worthy of anything but try we must. try we must – to collect to preserve to share – to have the truths be told

    it is important

    thank u

    re: simon w. i get updates from their center and got this the other day that kinda prompted me to write up me post above
    it is really upsetting but shows how the world goes wicked and spins sometimes

    re: the Deaf world and cultural and linguistic genocides and bystanders – yep definitely not cool

    so its important that as we have our passion to protect, safe guard, defend and work toward equality we do not lack compassion nor do we become what we hate

    this is why i get real sad to see extremism on either end – dogma and fascism and ideology can be used and abused in dangerous ways

    AVT / CI abolishing ASL use aint cool
    ASL/English abolishing use of hearing or speech (as suited or desired by the Deaf person) aint cool
    UK saying Deaf gene embryo must be tossed not cool
    US saying Deaf sperm or egg unacceptable not cool

    loving and learning and questioning and seeking – all good things

    we do have a duty to say and do – we just gotta make sure we r saying and doing that which is just, right and good

    thanks much for ur note



  13. Sheri A Farinha
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 19:40:53

    Beautifully shared Patti! Thanks for doing this! The Holocaust, no doubt is a memory so horrible you would think history would bear its mark so it never happens again. But situations like Darfar and others shows us not everyone in the world “gets it”.

    I grew up learning bits n pieces from my mom’s mothers side re family members who escaped during the Holocaust. My mom has a beautiful painting done by my great, great, great Uncle of a Russian Ballerina that was smuggled out of the country to America.

    Re Darfur, see this page of facts:
    Mind-blowing. The worst genocide ever!

    There are many other cases happening still around us, which is why I joined Amenesty International years ago:

    Thanks again,

  14. handeyes
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 21:22:44


    thanks for your comments and for the links – like the site

    amnesty international rocks – and todays headline is about Suu Kyi finally geting released in Myanmar – my heart is a hoping


  15. finlake
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 05:34:49

    I just spoke to one of the Holocaust survivor’s grandson. I had to ask him again what was her name. So I wonder if Hilda Rattner is the same person as Lilly Rattner (Now Lilly Shirey, was previously Rothenberg) ???

  16. Patti
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 12:50:20

    Heye Finlake
    Thanks for stopping back
    Check put the film exodus at Click video then NTID. Click exodus and u will see both Hilda and Lilly. I suspect u met lily. She is grand

  17. finlake
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 16:39:37

    Thanks sweetie!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: