The Beginning of the End
I’ve been looking through books on Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the first time the Nazis targeted Jews — their shops, their homes, their synagogues — en masse. That was 1938. Four years later, the horror of the Holocaust was in full swing.
I have been trying to get a better understanding of the community where my great grandparents lived and worked before coming to America. It was a diverse community, a border area where Poles, Jews, Germans and a Slavic minority called Kashubians lived in relative harmony, mostly.
One of my great grandfather’s sisters lived in Stettin, and their mother’s family had come from the Stolp area.
My great grandmother, aged 83, was still alive. She had been born in Pomerania, in a little village called Gröbenzien to the southeast of Bütow, which had a large Jewish population and a synagogue, which also had been destroyed by Nazi thugs during .
I would love to know what she knew and how she felt about it. She hadn’t been in Pomerania since 1887. But I am sure she was in contact with people there.
By 1945, the Russian Red Army was in control and many Germans had fled. Those who had remained were ultimately expelled and the region became part of Poland.
The excerpted passage is from Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction by Martin Gilbert.