Page 91 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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no way of making an accurate estimate of those stupendous cultur­
al losses.
The diabolical forms of destruction inflicted by the Nazis were
diverse. During the first phase of their domination in 1933-38, the
Nazis were bent on outright destruction ofJewish books, prefera­
bly by spectacular
autos-da-fe.
After they had seized power in Janu­
ary, 1933, they initiated a savage campaign calling for the burning
of all “non-German books.” This included books by liberal, dem­
ocratic and leftist authors, and, of course, all books written byJews.
The campaign culminated in raucous and barbarous celebrations
which drew wide-spread attention in the free world and evoked se­
vere condemnation in the press
(The New York Times
, June 11,
1933). Hayyim N. Bialik, who was still alive, articulated his lament
in a touching poem entitled
Eykhahyira’ et ha-esh.
The implacable warfare against the Jewish book entered a new
phase in 1938, when several synagogues were wrecked in Munich,
Nuremberg and Dortmund. These hostile acts were the precursor
of the ominous Kristallnacht of November 9-10, when one of the
worst pogroms in modern history was carried out by SA and SS
troops in every part of the country. In revenge for the assassination
by Herschel Grynszpan of Ernst vom Rath, third assistant in the
Nazi Embassy in Paris, numerous synagogues together with thou­
sands of books, Torah Scrolls and manuscripts, were put to the
torch and completely destroyed. Reinhard Heydrich, head of the
Reich Security Chief Office, reported at a meeting of German
ministers on November 12, 1938, that 101 synagogues had been
destroyed by fire and seventy-six wrecked. Many more synagogues
were seized between November, 1938, and September, 1939.
These were converted into German schools, Hitler youth houses,
sport clubs, and the like. Synagogues were blasted and burned also
in Austria, Sudetenland and Danzig, although not yet incorporated
into the Reich. A contemporaneous Jewish estimate puts the num­
ber of destroyed religious edifices between 413 and 520. This de­
structive pattern was continued during World War II. According
to an authentic estimate
(FormerJewish Communal Property in Ger­
many,
, New York, 1947), there were approximately 1,300 syna­
83
Jewish Book during Nazi Era