Oskar Blechner - Polish birth certificateOn October 27 1938, Hitler struck against the Jews and expelled from Germany 18000 Jews who, although living in Germany since 1918, had been born in the former Polish provinces of the Russian Empire. Jacob, Friedl and his parents were arrested and despatched by train to Lvov. By the time the train arrived in Lvov the Poles had worked out an agreement with the Germans and their train returned to Germany. Oskar managed to avoid being rounded up that day but his younger brother, Salo was not so fortunate. He was arrested in Berlin and sent to Zbaszyn (pronounced Sponssin) - a town directly on the border between Germany and Poland - where the Jews were held in appalling conditions.

The synagogue in the Reichenbachstrasse, Munich after Kristallnacht

The synagogue in Reichenbachstraße, Munich after Kristallnacht.
Picture: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München.

Also in Zbaszyn was Zindel Grynszpan, who wrote a postcard to his son Hirsch in Paris describing the conditions and their predicament. The young man, enraged by what he read went to the German Embassy in Paris and on the November 6 1938 fired fatal shots at the first German official who received him - diplomat Ernst vom Rath.

This provided the Nazis with a welcome excuse for an attack on the Jews in Germany. On the evening of November 9 1938 in the Main Chamber of the Old Town Hall in Munich, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave an inflammatory speech, which served as a clarion call for action by the Party and SA functionaries. Within hours "Kristallnacht" (The Night of the Broken Glass) had begun its course. Windows were smashed in Jewish shops, their goods looted. Synagogues were ransacked and pillaged before being set alight. A number of Jews were badly beaten up and killed that night.

It was time to leave .......