Eye-witness accounts held by the Wiener Library taken immediately following the state-sanctioned campaign of hatred against Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe on the 9/10 November 1938 have been translated for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass).
Extract from Account P. II d. 195 20 November 1938
Vienna, 20 November ‘38
My dear Otto,
You cannot imagine how things have been with us. Papa with a head-wound, bandaged, myself in bed with severe fits, everything devastated and destroyed. And the poor child had to look after us, cook, and run errands, although still in a state of serious exhaustion. It has already been nearly 14 days, and I still can’t take it in. – I have already told you that we had a similar visit on Yom Kippur, and it had a similar bloody and tragic ending. At first I was just glad that we had survived, but when I realised that I had no dresses, no coat, and to cap it all not even a stitch of underwear any more, then I thought again that my heart would break. So that you don’t think I’m exaggerating, let me tell you that when the doctor came to bandage Papa, Rosa and Herta, all three of them bleeding copiously from head wounds, we couldn’t give him a towel or any piece of cloth to wipe the blood off his hands, so he had to leave. My poor heart had to take in the fact that the place was so full of fragments and splinters, because all the glasses, windows and mirrors had been smashed, that we didn’t know where to turn. The day after, we were sent two shirts to put on, one for me and one for Papa. I can’t tell you how many tears I shed, we are destitute, we don’t even have the most basic clothing, we can’t even go out into the street; in any case I have no desire to do so! But even that was not enough; two days later we were told that I had to make room at once and accommodate two more families in my flat; furthermore, I was to be ready within 3 hours. What could I do but get up and take everything from the bedroom into the dining room, and the two families, Frau Kramer with two children and Frau Terner with one child and a sick mother, moved in with me, You cannot imagine what things look like here.
With lots of love,
Your unhappy Gisa.