Essenweinstrasse_SynagogueThis letter was written by a retired fireman, who remembered “Crystal Night” in Laupheim (Germany).

The alarm went off between 5-5-30 A.M., and as usual, I jumped on my bicycle towards the firehouse. I had a strange feeling when I got there and saw many people standing in front of it. I was not allowed to go into the firehouse to take the engines out, or even to open the doors. One of my friends, who lived next to the Synagogue, whispered to me, “Be quiet – the Synagogue is burning; I was beaten up already when I wanted to put out the fire.”

Eventually we were allowed to take the fire engines out, but only very slowly. We were ordered not to use any water till the whole synagogue was burned down. Many of us did not like to do that, but we had to be careful not to voice our opinions, because “the enemy is listening.”

Only after one of the party members was worried that his house was going to catch fire, were we allowed to use water. But, even then, we just had to stand and watch until the House of Prayers was reduced to rubble and ashes.

In the meantime, the marshalls rounded up the Jews and dragged them in front of the Synagogue, where they had to kneel down and put their hands above their heads. I saw with my own eyes how one old Jew was dragged down and pushed to his knees. Then the arsonists came in their brown uniforms to admire the results of their destruction.

….Everyone seemed rather quiet and subdued… We had to stand watch at the Synagogue to make sure there were no more smoldering sparks. My turn was from 10-11 and 2-3 P.M. The brown uniforms paraded around to admire their work.

As I was watching the destroyed Synagogue and the frail old Jews, I wondered whose turn would be next!… When would it be our turn? Will the same thing happen to our Protestant and Catholic Churches!

Museum of Tolerance Online- Kristallnacht Eyewitness Accounts and Reminiscences