As I speak about my book, “Mollie’s War” over the Veterans Day weekend, I just wanted to share what happened today. Today is November 9, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass. The Nazis burned nearly every synagogue in Germany. The Westend Synagogue in Frankfurt was not destroyed by the Nazis in 1938, because there was fear of damage to neighboring buildings used by Nazi party members. I was speaking to GEL (Gentlemen Enjoying Leisure) at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, IL and sharing some of my mothers’s letters. When I read her letter about witnessing first-hand the rededication of the Great Synagogue, the only standing synagogue in Frankfurt, it sent shivers down my spine to realize today’s date.
“The services were conducted in a synagogue which was spared in the fires set by the Nazis Nov. 9, 1938, in nearly every synagogue in Germany. The New Year’s services were combined with a rededication of the synagogue. Chaplain Vida (Army) and Dr. Neuhaus (Frankfurt civilian rabbi) conducted services. The services were certainly well attended by our Army and Navy personnel. There were a lot of high ranking officers there, too. As for the civilian Jews, there were very few left to attend from this once large community of 34,000 Jews. Beck, these Jews were not dramatic, nor did they carry-on, but one could discern readily the untold suffering they had experienced these many years. They held their heads high—and we were all proud to be a part of them. Yes, the Germans watched us walking in the synagogue and out—they were hanging out of their windows eyeing us carefully. Not one remark was passed; nor did they even speak amongst themselves, that is, while we stared back at them. This was a great day and one I shall never forget. Although I really didn’t want to come to Germany, it was worth it just to see all this.”