July 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Yavneh Academy Commemorates Kristallnacht

On November 11, in commemoration of Kristallnacht, the Yavneh Academy Middle School hosted Mr. Julius Behrend. Mr. Behrend, who currently resides in Spring Valley, NY spoke about his childhood memories of growing up during the Nazi era in Germany.

Born and raised in the famous port city of Hamburg, Germany, Mr. Behrend grew up comfortable, his parents having owned a business, and he enjoyed some luxuries that were unavailable to most people at that time.

His paternal grandfather was the president of one of Europe’s most magnificent synagogues, the orthodox synagogue of Hamburg. The synagogue sat amidst a park in the residential section of the city, accommodated 1,200 people, and was adorned with an Aron that was fashioned with Italian marble paid for by the well-known Warburg family.

Mr. Behrend spoke movingly to the students about his father returning from the synagogue on November 10, 1938, weeping like a baby over the synagogue’s destruction, only to be arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp hours later.

Mr. Behrend made a point of emphasizing that his family benefited from the loving kindness of his grandfather. Over twenty years earlier, in 1910, his grandfather had arranged an honorable send-off for a community official who had left under a cloud of suspicion. He personally provided the funds for the official to begin his new life in America. The elder Mr. Behrend, who was not convinced the man had done wrong, arranged a fine farewell party so his fellow Jew would not leave in disgrace and shame.

Mr. Behrend spoke to the Middle School students about his experience of hiding each night in order to avoid the British bombing.  He explained that the situation was made even more difficult because Jews were forbidden to hide in the same air raid shelters as Germans. As the war progressed emigration became progressively more difficult as countries closed their doors to the Jews.  By this time, the man who had been assisted by Mr. Behrend’s grandfather had established himself in the United States. He remembered the chesed done for him by the Behrend family and was determined to save the rest of the family. He personally arranged for Mr. Behrend and his parents to leave Germany. They arrived in America in May of 1941 just five months before the Germans closed all doors of emigration to Jews.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles