Living the night of Kristallnacht November 9th, 1938 - David I. Hanauer

 A Child's Experience of Kristallnacht

Poetic Ethnographer: David I. Hanauer

Participant: Holocaust survivor

Project: Lived Holocaust experiences

Source: Hanauer, D. (2012) Living the Kindertransport: A poetic representation. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 31 (1), 18-33


In Würzburg

 there was a well-known Jewish teachers seminar

it’s very well-known

well known Jewish personalities teachers came from there. 


And it was the morning for me to go to this particular building


And I went off, um, and went walked towards it

 it wasn’t very far


 and suddenly our car

my parents had a car

the car was an Adler

came up


and the chauffer that we employed, uh,

 wearing a brown Nazi uniform quickly caught up with me,

got hold of me

and put me in the car

and said “under no conditions are you to go to the teachers’ seminar or anywhere near it,”

and he said

“I’ll drive you past it and I’ll drive you home.” 

And he drove past it

and there they were

and they had taken all the books that were in the seminar, uh,

And they were burning it down

and he took me home


And my father had gone to the office

 to his business to the factory

he didn’t know anything because

unlike other people,

 we had the assistant there living at downstairs

he didn't want anybody,

you know,

coming into the apartment

breaking the windows

breaking the furniture

and having some screaming Jews come out

he wanted a peaceful


and so nothing happened. 


So my father didn't know

when he found out what the chauffer knew

when he found out,

he asked the chauffer to take

my mother and myself to the office to the business

 so we would all be together and not at home. 



And, we were there

and after a little while,

the two gentlemen, uh,

who were the Gestapo came in

to the business and wanted to arrest my uncle and my father


My father told them that he was a war veteran and that he had a medal

they left him alone and they left my uncle alone

but my cousin

who was young, they took him. 




Later on,

 my mother and myself went back to the flat

there was a knock at the door


and a cousin of mine,

with his father

wearing jackboots and brown trousers

came to stay with us.


He had heard about the Kristallnacht in the village

and he had been on the train

 all the time moving around

so that he wouldn’t be caught


And he came and he said he was tired now

 he had been moving around all day

could he stay there

 he thought it might be safe. 



After a little while towards the evening

another two gentlemen came to the flat

who were also Gestapo

and said “we’d like to wait for your,” to my mother,

“we’d like to wait for your husband”


 in the meantime we had this cousin’s brother sitting in the toilet



It’s a good thing that they didn’t have to go to the toilet


My father came home,

 and, uh, they said to him,

“We're very sorry, but we have to take you into protective custody.” 


And they took him

but they didn’t take him to a concentration camp

they took him to the prison in Würzburg.


the prison was at the end of what is called the Hofgarten


And everyday,

I can remember,

my mother and I walked, um,

through the park at a certain time


I don’t know how she got the message to my father,


but my father was at the prison window

when we walked past and we saw him. 


And he was imprisoned for I think about two weeks

ten days or two weeks,

and then he was released.  



after the Kristallnacht

we were asked to move from our very nice flat

to a not a ghetto

but a more Jewish district which was of lower value

and we moved there

They came and said

“you can no longer live here.” 


 somebody came and said out -  “Raus”


I think it,

it was at this point that my parents decided

that um this was not a place

 for their child that there was not much future.



I didn’t know that

I didn’t realize that.