A regular reader of this blog, who has his own blog here, recently wrote in a comment that “Dachau was THE HILTON of KZ Camps.” Not according to the Jews who were sent to Dachau on November 10, 1938, following the pogrom known as Kristallnacht. (Pogrom is a Polish word which means an event in which ordinary citizens use violence to drive the Jews out.)
This quote is from David Solmitz, the son of Walter Solmitz, who has written a book about his father. You can read the full story here:
Solmitz said when his father was arrested Nov. 10, 1938, in Munich, he correctly predicted that things would get worse.
Walter Solmitz detailed that he and the 200 others in his barracks were awakened day after day at 4:45 a.m. to face hours of degradation, threats, chores, roll calls and marching. Many collapsed and suffered from frostbite. Punishment, he wrote, consisted of isolation in darkness, being hung upside down from a tree for several hours and being struck with a cane.
Walter Solmitz believed that six men in his barracks died during his six-week imprisonment. Walter Solmitz was released Dec. 21, 1938.
Walter and his wife, Elly, who was instrumental in freeing her husband, made their way to the United States and eventually to Brunswick.
Elly Solmitz was “instrumental in freeing her husband” because she arranged for the family to leave Germany. Approximately 30,00 Jewish men were arrested on the night of November 9, 1938, allegedly for their own protection, and taken to the 3 major concentration camps in Germany, including 10,911 who were brought to Dachau and held as prisoners. The majority of these Jews were released within a few weeks, after they promised to leave Germany within six months; most of them wound up in Shanghai, the only place that did not require a visa, because other countries, except Great Britain, refused to take them.
Kristallnacht was the night that German citizens smashed windows in Jewish shops and set fire to over 200 Jewish Synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland in what is now the Czech Republic. Ninety-one people were killed during this uncontrolled riot which the police did not try to stop. That night, Hitler and his henchmen were gathered at the Bürgerbräukeller, a beer hall in Munich, celebrating the anniversary of Hitler’s attempt to take over the German government by force in 1923; Hitler’s failed Putsch had been organized at the Bürgerbräukeller.
Joseph Goebbels made a speech that night at the beer hall in which he said that he would not be surprised if the German people were so outraged by the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan that they would take the law into their own lands and attack Jewish businesses and Synagogues. Goebbels is generally credited with being the instigator of the Kristallnacht pogrom. (more…)