85 years after the Nazis ym”s commanded the destruction of Jewish homes and shuls from an imposing red building in Krefeld, Germany, Yidden danced with a new Torah at the very same building.
“63 members of the Jewish community were arrested and taken to Krefeld prison. The apartments of Jewish families were broken into, their furniture smashed and thrown into the street. The synagogue on Petersstraße was vandalized and set on fire, the Krefeld Linn synagogue was destroyed and – because the masonry did not burn – later razed to the ground by firefighters. The Uerdingen synagogue was destroyed and demolished after their holy books and interior furnishings were burned on a funeral pyre. The Hüls synagogue was set on fire, the community center on Bleichpfad was destroyed and set on fire, 18 stores owned by Krefeld Jews in the city center were destroyed…”
These horrifying words were recorded by the Nazis yemach shemom after the inafmous “Kristallnacht” pogrom on the 9th and 10th of November in 1938. The order for all these ghastly actions came from the local headquarters of the NSDAP (the Nazi Party) in Krefeld, Germany, a big red villa on Bismarckplatz 32.
Almost 85 years later, the red building is still standing. The swastika flags have long since disappeared and only an information panel on the facade reminds us of its most terrible times.
It was precisely this villa that around 300 participants of a Hachnasat Sefer Torah danced past with full Jewish pride on Rosh Chodesh Sivan.
The Sefer Torah had been commissioned by the Krefeld Jewish community, and written by sofer Rabbi Yosef Dan Khranovsky from Antwerp – originally from Odessa, Ukraine. The mantle of the Torah was donated by the Rosen family of Yerushalayim. Before the Holocaust, the Rosen family was a long-established Jewish family in Krefeld who ran their own small shul in Krefeld and suffered extremely under the Nazis.
When planning the event, shliach Rabbi Yitzchak Mendel Wagner and the chairman of the Krefeld community Hillel Shmuel Naydych immediately knew where they wanted the procession to go: past that infamous building that served as the Nazi headquarters.
And so it was. Together with the Lord Mayor of Krefeld, Frank Meyer, the Krefeld community and its friends, as well as shluchim from various cities, and the bochurim of the Dnipro Yeshiva, which evacuated to Düsseldorf, Germany, at the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, danced and sang on the square from which so much suffering came to the Jewish community at that time.
85 years after the 9th of November 1938, the Third Reich of the Nazis has long perished while Jewish life in Krefeld is flourishing again! Am Yisrael Chai!