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The Night Of Broken Glass MAG
After a hard day's work, I decided to close my crafts ishop located in OldMontreal and go home. Just as I was taking the key out of the door, I noticed acouple of kids riding by on their bicycles. They looked like nice clean-cut boysso I waved and greeted them with a warm, friendly smile. They stared at me withangry eyes and then laughed. "You stupid, old man," one of themshouted.
One of the bigger boys walked toward the trash and grabbed anempty bottle. He clenched it tightly in his hands and then he threw it at my shopwindow, and it shattered. The glass went flying everywhere; it fell like rain allover the sidewalk in front of my shop. I put my hands to my ears to block thenoise. That familiar noise of shattering glass rang through my ears. The brokenglass that lay still on the ground brought back nightmares of the most horrifyingnight of my life, the night of broken glass , Kristallnacht.
As I stoodthere sweeping up the glass, I remembered my father crying as we cleaned up hisgrocery shop in Munich, Germany fifty-three years ago.
It was November1938 and it was cold in Germany. Anti-Semitism was on the rise and Hitler hadtaken power over Germany. The tension in Eastern Europe had been very high formonths. We were a Jewish family living in a country full of depression, hatredand hardship. My family was always having private conversations in which theyexcluded me, and after each meeting they always looked worried, but I was onlyseven years old and what worries did I have? Except, for some reason, my motherwould always pick me up from school. It was very strange because she had neverdone this before. As we walked home day after day, all of the older childrenwould laugh at my mother and me. They would call us "Judens" and wouldstand around us pointing and pushing. My mother would pull me closer and we wouldkeep on walking.
As we sat down to our usual Sabbath dinner, I noticedthat the worried look on my mother's face, which had been there for months, hadgrown deeper.
I remember my mother telling my family that there had beentalk of a major pogrom all across Germany, and therefore she wanted to leave thecountry as soon as possible. My father told us that we were not going to leave."My grocery shop is a success, the children are in school," heexclaimed. "Our life is here in Germany and we aren't leaving; besidesnothing is going to happen."
It was Sabbath and no one wanted toargue, but that wasn't the last time we were to hear about leaving Germany. As amatter of fact, by the very next day, the Jewish community was buzzing with newsof the upcoming pogrom. Some families were preparing to leave, but others werenot worried. My mother insisted we leave, but time and time again my fatherrefused.
Days passed and my mother had given up hope of leaving Germany.Then one day my mother kept us all at home because tension was too great to go toschool. My father closed his grocery shop early and came home for dinner. We atein silence and then it happened. The horror began.
As we all huddled nearthe window we were not prepared for what we saw. Our jaws dropped and we allfroze, the sky was black with smoke, and Munich was red with fire. Holy andreligious books were being burned by the hundreds, shops were on fire, we couldhear glass being broken from miles away. There were massive crowds, guns,shooting, yelling and crying. Despite all of this, some of the citizens of Munichwere dancing in the street. My mother started to whimper, then cry and then wail.My father stood still at the window and I stood beside him, scared and cold. Mysisters and brother comforted my mother and they too cried. We all gatheredtogether on a nearby couch, except for my father who stared out the window untilmorning.
At the first hint of light, my father, along with my brother andI, headed toward the grocery shop not knowing what to expect. As we approachedthe shop, we saw what had happened. The windows had been smashed, the glass wasscattered on the ground, the store was empty, bullet holes covered the walls andhalf the store had been burned. Then for the first time since the pogrom hadstarted, my father cried. We cleaned up as much as possible and returned home.Overnight my father had aged twenty years. He was tired and forlorn. He told mymother that she had been right: we were no longer welcome in what we thought wasour home.
We got our passports and papers together. We said good-bye tofriends and family and tried to persuade them to leave as well. We were on ourway to Canada.
A horn from a passing car jolted me back to reality. Iquickly looked around. The boys who had broken the window had already biked away,and the glass from the broken window still lay on the ground. My emotionsoverwhelmed me and I sat by the curb and cried.