“I still don’t know if that night was either the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end. But it clearly marked a turning point”, says the now 81-year-old Dr. Menachem Mayer. He and his family had led an ordinary life in the village of Hoffenheim, in Southwestern Germany – a life that suddenly ended in the early hours of November 10, 1938. It was well before dawn when German forces broke into the Mayers' home, pulled six-year-old Menachem, his parents and his brother Manfred, 9, out of their second-floor apartment, threw their belongings into the street and burned the nearby synagogue.
The nationwide pogrom has made history as "The Night of the Broken Glass", or “Kristallnacht” in German. It was exactly 75 years ago that Nazi storm troopers murdered hundreds of German Jews and destroyed thousands of synagogues and Jewish shops
“I still remember standing on the street, only wearing pajamas and watching those Nazi SA (Assault Division) thugs wrecking our life”, says Dr. Mayer as if no time had passed since then. “I may have forgotten many things - but this image was burned into my memory since 75 years. It was the end of my childhood.”Share
At the end of 1940, the two young brothers and their parents were deported to France and held in a detention camp there. In 1942, the parents were then sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered. Heinz was smuggled into Switzerland under a false name, and Manfred was hidden in France until the liberation. The brothers survived. Manfred made his way to the United States while Menachem immigrated to Israel in 1948, installed himself in Jerusalem and became a science teaching superintendent. (Read more.)