The thugs throwing bricks. Mass arrests. The burning synagogue. The streets were littered with shards of broken glass.Eighty-four years ago, from 9 to 10 November 1938, in what was known as the crystal nightNazis and SS mobs, with the eager assistance of ordinary citizens, burned or destroyed hundreds of synagogues and destroyed or destroyed thousands of Jewish homes, schools, businesses, hospitals and cemeteries in Germany and Austria.
Nearly a hundred Jews were killed in the violence. Nazi officials ordered police to stand by as riots raged and buildings burned, although firefighters were allowed to put out any fires that threatened German property.
broken glass night
back crystal night, the streets and sidewalks of Jewish neighborhoods are littered with broken glass from destroyed buildings, hence the name “Broken Glass Night.” The Nazis then boldly held the Jewish community accountable for the damage, collectively imposing a fine equal to $400 million.
Afterwards, more than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Germany’s Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, which were built for Jews, political prisoners and others considered enemies of the Nazis.
Kristallnacht marked a turning point in the Nazis’ more violent and repressive approach to Jews. The brutality of Crystal Nights reminded Jews in Europe that Nazi anti-Semitism was not a temporary predicament, it will only get worse. As a result, many Jews began planning to flee their homeland or seek the help of brave non-Jewish friends.
One such hero couple is Dr. Ella Lingens and her husband, Dr. Kurt Lingens.
Anti-Nazi activist who risked his life
They were both doctors in Vienna, and they were all ardent anti-Nazi activists. Kurt Lingens is an anti-fascist born in Düsseldorf, Germany. His father, a former police chief, lost his job due to his ties to the Catholic anti-Nazi party.
Dr. Ella Ringens
Kurt Lingens himself was banned by Nazi authorities from studying at German universities for his anti-fascist activities as a student.
Kurt’s wife Ella, born in Vienna in 1908, holds a Juris Doctor degree and studied medicine at the local university. As soon as the Nazis annexed Austria, she began helping Jews, especially medical students she knew.During this period crystal night Rioting, she immediately hid ten Jews in her room.
In 1939, Lingenses met the anti-Nazi Baron Karl von Motesiczky, who was also studying medicine at the University of Vienna and whose mother was Jewish. After becoming friends, Baron von Motesiski invited the Lingen family to live in a large house he owned on the outskirts of Vienna during the summer months.
baron karl von motesiski
The Baron often hosted Jews and members of the anti-Nazi resistance in the house. Despite the risks to themselves and their young son, Ella and Kurt hid a young Jewish woman, Erika Felden, in their apartment for several months. They were helped by sympathetic friends. A couple in charge of distributing food ration cards gave Carl and Ella several cards for Felden. Their housekeeper gave Felden her ID when she was seriously infected, allowing her to receive treatment.
Their home remains a sanctuary for the couple’s Jewish friends. Some asked them to use their connections to help them escape the Nazis. One of them, a Jewish former stage actor named Rudolf Klinger, unfortunately became a whistleblower.
In 1942, a Jewish acquaintance asked Kurt and Ella to help his friend get to Hungary. Klinger volunteered to accompany two Jewish couples to the border. He took them there, but at the last minute, treacherously betrayed them and others involved to the Germans. As a result, Lingenses and Baron von Motesiczky were arrested. Kurt Lingens was assigned to a unit of soldiers sent to the Russian front as punishment for various crimes. There, Ringens was seriously wounded, but managed to survive the war and eventually returned to Vienna.
Dr. Ella Ringens
Ella Lingens and Baron von Motesic were sent to Auschwitz, where Baron von Motesic died of typhus.
Gestapo informant Klinger was arrested in 1943 when the Nazis thought he was no longer useful to them and was sent to die in Auschwitz.
With her imprisonment coming to an end, she had to make an extremely difficult decision.
Fortunately, Ella was able to work as a doctor for the inmates of the concentration camp, continued her rescue efforts, and saved the lives of several Jews in the gas chambers.
With her imprisonment coming to an end, she had to make an extremely difficult decision. Ella described this in her testimony to Yad Vashem:
“Most of the time, we just watched the selection go on. But in one instance, I was able to intervene. I was called to the political department a few days ago. The patient was Mrs. Lehmann from Frankfurt am Main. From late August 1943 to February 1944, selections were held every four weeks, not only in the wards, but throughout the camp. Between 500 and 1,000 women were selected each time, and I was sure Mrs. Lehman would be one of the victims. I Went to see her and found that I was right. She was distressed, trembling with fear and despair, and grabbed my hand. “Help me,” she blurted out repeatedly…
“The camp doctor told me a while ago that I should be very careful not to take any wrong steps because I was released [from Auschwitz] Expected in the next few weeks. As an Aryan German, my intervention on behalf of this woman could anger the Waffen SS and jeopardize my release. Only those who have been in concentration camps and have no idea how long they have been imprisoned can understand the meaning of even the smallest hope of freedom.
“My only child was three when we parted. Only those who have children understand the depth and extent of a mother’s desire for a child. I walked up and down the camp road alone and miserably in that winter twilight. The grey barracks, watchtowers and electrified barbed wire stretched as far as the eye could see – a hopelessly ugly sight. I was allowed to leave this place, this place and its torment. In Here, I was asked to risk everything and make myself unpopular for the sake of an almost stranger Mrs. Lehman…
“Time is running out and if I want to do anything, I have to make a decision. In my mind, when I am separated from him, I see my little boy and hear his sweet voice, his little arms around clutching my neck and begging “Mom, please stay with me”…. Then I saw the young woman look me pleadingly in the eyes. The deep desire for freedom and life in my heart was with this poor The creature struggles with great compassion; the duty to save lives as a doctor and as a human being is struggling with a mother’s commitment to survive for her children, as every day in the camp constitutes a lethal danger.
“No one could tell me the solution was obvious. I was tortured too hard to make up my mind. But I had an insight: I may have the right to claim that my life and that of my children are more important than the lives of strangers. But that’s not the problem If I fail and turn around and let this man I might save die, just because I am in danger myself, I will make the same mistakes as the entire German people…those who ordered and carried out these horrible things The behaviors aren’t that much. But countless others let them happen because they lack the courage to stop them. They quit with a sigh, claiming “there’s nothing we can do about it,” even in those situations where something can be done.
“If I quietly turned away for fear of being in the camp too long, I would be watching passively, like everyone else still outside, for fear that they would be focused on the camp. If so, SS The army would have succeeded in “educating” me, as the Gestapo who sent me to the concentration camp liked to say. This meant that everything I had done so far was in vain, and I could have stayed at home.
“What rose in me was not sympathy or responsibility, but hatred for a system that wanted to suppress me and strip me of my dignity and honor. I said to my young son in my heart, ‘Son, you may have to wait a long time for your mother A little, but when she comes back, she can look you in the eye and you don’t have to be ashamed. Your mother tongue is German.”
Despite traveling to Dachau from Auschwitz, Ella miraculously survived until returning to Vienna after the war.
On January 3, 1980, Yad Vashem admitted that both Kurt and Ella Lingens were righteous internationally.