Documenting History through Artifacts
The Museum has many Kristallnacht artifacts on display and in its collection. In honor of the November Pogrom’s 75th anniversary we highlight here several memorable items.
This prayer book, filled with Hebrew prayers and their German translations, came from a synagogue in Osnabrueck, Germany. It was just one of 267 synagogues and 7,500 Jewish businesses in Germany and Austria that were attacked, heavily damaged or totally destroyed on Kristallnacht. This prayer book escaped the pogrom intact and found its way into the hands of Klaus and Evalyn Schaap, who later donated it to the Museum. Prayer books and synagogues are central to Jewish tradition. By attacking synagogues on Kristallnacht, Germans aimed to disrupt Jewish daily life. This prayer book is a testament to the resilience of the Jewish people and their dedication and will to survive.
This document, dated a few weeks after Kristallnacht, is an example of a document requiring Jews to pay the German government for damage inflicted by the Germans on Jewish property during the riots of Kristallnacht. This particular “atonement payment” mandates that the Albiersheim family pay 20% of their assets – 10,200 Riechmarks – in four quarterly payments. It perfectly captures the injustice of the period and was donated by Anna Albersheim Uhlmann, the first cousin of Herbert, Ruth, and Walter Albiersheim, residents of Billerbeck, Germany.
This police certificate is on display in the Karkomi Permanent Exhibition. It sheds light on another aspect of Kristallnacht that is often missing from the general narrative: many Jews – particularly males – were arrested on Kristallnacht and released only if they promised to leave Germany. Alfred Stein of Stuttgart, Germany, was arrested on that night. This certificate requires him to move by December 20, 1938 if he wants to avoid another arrest. Jews forced out of Germany had to find a way to both secure proper emigration papers and find a country that would grant them entry. While some Jews escaped Europe, many others went to neighboring countries where antisemitism and the Holocaust soon caught up with them.