Archive for October 29th, 2008

Artifacts from Kristallnacht found in dump

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Israeli researchers have found a unique trove of artifacts from Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi riot of anti-semitic violence which resulted in massive destruction of Jewish-owned property and 30,000 men sent to concentration camps.

Despite the importance of the event, very few artifacts have ever surfaced. There are plenty of descriptions from witnesses, some pictures, a movie or two, but almost no material remains.

That’s because the Nazis piled the loot in trains and sent it to Klandorf. The locals knew about it, but no historians or researchers did until a fortuitous forest encounter.

Werner Russ, a retired forester, was gathering mushrooms when he ran into Yaron Svoray, an Israeli writer and former detective who was researching stolen artifacts once stashed in a nearby hunting lodge that belonged to Hermann Göring, the Luftwaffe commander. Mr. Russ, 73, confirmed to Mr. Svoray what people of Klandorf had always known about the local dump. “We’re away from everything here,” he said. “I thought surely it would not interest anyone.”

Mr. Svoray, though, was decidedly interested. He returned in spring, bringing along three friends with shovels and picks. They dug up a green bottle with a Star of David stamped into the bottom, mezuzot and burnt armrests of chairs from synagogues. Mr. Svoray also found an ornamental metal swastika.

Now that it’s made the press, though, this pristine site needs to be kept from neo-Nazi shitheads diving for swastikas, not to mention from garden variety looters.

A Holocaust museum and research center in Israel, The Ghetto Fighters’ House, has a neat idea.

The Ghetto Fighters’ House hopes to set up a living history center that would bring young Germans and Israelis together to sift through the contents of the dump. Such a project could help the area, one of the many economically depressed parts of the former East Germany.

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