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Pomegranate Guild > Long Island Group Stitches Holocaust Stories

Kristallnacht and Beyond
(as told by Sam Simon in an interview by Maury Allan for the Yonkers Herald Statesman on the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Nov, 1988)
by Brenda Simon Zangre

On November 10,1938, Sam Simon, a 16-year-old schoolboy no longer allowed to go to school,sat in his living room in Rastatt, Germany. Although he had his visa number, all he could do was wait. There was nothing else for a Jew to do but wait."There were 2 million Jews in Germany; what could they do with all of them?" Then on the evening of Nov.9, hordes of storm troopers, SS men, Hitler Youth, and the Gestapo marauded through Germany burning synagogues and smashing Jewish stores. There was an eerie silence in his town that night. His father, the local cantor, never showed up at the railroad station the next day where Sam had ridden his bike to meet him. He, along with the other Jewish men in the small town near the Swiss-French border, had been arrested and taken to Dachau. The SS came to their house about noon and ask for the keys to the synagogue; they didn't need them--they broke open the doors and set the synagogue on fire. Only the walls remained. The army came a few days later to plant dynamite and blow up the synagogue. The walls would not fall; It took them 2 weeks to level the building. The last thing he could see before it went down was the tablets above the building with the Ten Commandments.

A few weeks after Kristallnacht a telegram arrived at the family home. Sam's father was a reknowned stamp collector and had been involved in a national stamp collecting study. He took the telegram to Gestapo headquarters and told them his father was important to the study. They said they would contact officials at Dachau and a few weeks later his father returned home.

Finally, Sam's exit number came up. He went to the French-German border by train with his father and walked across the Rhine River Bridge toward France. Arranged by his father, a cab picked him up. Sam made his way to Paris and then to LaHavre. He boarded a ship called the City of Baltimore with only 4 marks left in his pocket. He arrived in New York in March 20, 1939. His parents flew out of Germany on the last flight to Spain before the war.

Always interested in stamps and collecting, he began gathering stamps,letters and postcards from the concentration camps. He held one of the largest collections of that material in the country, and wrote a technical book about it.


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Originally Posted: December 23, 2005
Last Updated: August 1, 2010

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