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Sat Nov 9, 2013, 12:25 AM

Kristallnacht anniversary still haunting for child refugee from Nazi mobs

One afternoon, five-year-old John Izbicki woke from a nap to find the streets outside his Berlin home curiously quiet and empty. As the trams had stopped and there was no one to be seen, he decided to indulge himself and began skipping down the road with three dangerous words on his lips. "I'm a Jew," he shouted. "I'm a Jew."

The sense of liberation afforded him by what turned out to be an air-raid drill was, he remembers, quite spectacular.

"There was I thinking, as a wee lad, 'This is marvellous I can now say I'm a Jew without fear'."

Less amused was his father, who rushed out of his haberdashery shop to scoop up his son and ask him if he was trying to get them arrested.

"That," says Izbicki, "was the beginning for me."

Three years later and 75 years ago tomorrow Izbicki stood on the balcony of his home on Invalidenstrasse and watched as the pogrom that would come to be known as Kristallnacht the night of broken glass gathered its hateful momentum. It was the morning after his eighth birthday and the mob beneath him had turned its attention to the Jewish-owned leatherware shop opposite. Very soon its window, like thousands of others that day and night, had been smashed.

more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/08/kristallnacht-anniversary-germany-child-refugees-nazis?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

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Reply Kristallnacht anniversary still haunting for child refugee from Nazi mobs (Original post)
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 OP
delrem Nov 2013 #1
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 #2
delrem Nov 2013 #5
Warren DeMontague Nov 2013 #17
madrchsod Nov 2013 #3
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 #4
delrem Nov 2013 #6
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 #7
delrem Nov 2013 #10
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 #12
delrem Nov 2013 #16
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 #19
Warren DeMontague Nov 2013 #18
cynatnite Nov 2013 #8
delrem Nov 2013 #9
cynatnite Nov 2013 #11
delrem Nov 2013 #14
icymist Nov 2013 #13
freshwest Nov 2013 #15
Behind the Aegis Nov 2013 #20

Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 12:59 AM

1. There is something of fantasy about this account.

To be sure the holocaust is not something to be denied, and the account of a five-year-old John Izbicki, living in the face of it, is compellingly true.

The following story, from the above link, doesn't ring true. It has the ring of a deus ex machina:

/quote/
"It was the assassination in Paris of a Nazi diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, allegedly by a young German-born Polish Jew, Herschel Grynszpan, that became the excuse for Kristallnacht. The destructive orgy that ensued left at least 91 Jews murdered, 30,000 arrested, and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged over the 9 and 10 of November 1938 in co-ordinated attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria.

Izbicki remembers that the violence seemed to particularly delight one old woman who limped past a Jewish-owned shop, screeching: "Dirty Jews! They should kill the lot of you!"

So shrill and so loud were her screams that they brought down a jagged piece of glass that had clung on to the top of the window.

As Izbicki looked on, the falling shard split the old woman's head open, killing her instantly.

"There was blood everywhere and I vomited," he says. "And when I'd finished vomiting, I believed in God.""
/unquote/

Perhaps a bit of poetic license, but still, introducing fantasy.

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Response to delrem (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 01:03 AM

2. And you know it is fantasy how?

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 01:20 AM

5. It is very theatric. Other than that, I can't "prove it".

But the imagery that portrays this Jew-hating German woman screeching "Dirty Jews! They should kill the lot of you!", dislodging the shard of glass which fell, piercing her skull, splitting her head open. Well, that's the very epitome of "poetic justice / theatric".

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Response to delrem (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:45 AM

17. 5 year olds tend to perceive things in dramatic terms.

To be sure, a 75 year old memory of something a 5 year old experienced, is bound to be a little hazy.

Kristallnacht was massively fucked up, and I'm sure it was horribly traumatic for the children who experienced it. We are fortunate to still have people who can share their memories with us, because to be sure many folks would love to paper over that particular chunk of history.

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Response to delrem (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 01:10 AM

3. yes it seems to be embellished...

over the years it seems the author has embellished the memories of a 5 yr old .

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Response to madrchsod (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 01:14 AM

4. The child would have been eight or nine at the time of Kristallnacht.

One afternoon, five-year-old John Izbicki woke from a nap to find the streets outside his Berlin home curiously quiet and empty.

Skip to...

Three years later and 75 years ago tomorrow Izbicki stood on the balcony of his home on Invalidenstrasse and watched as the pogrom that would come to be known as Kristallnacht the night of broken glass gathered its hateful momentum.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 01:48 AM

6. A 5 or 6 yr old's story compared to at 8 or 9 isn't much difference except

during the ages 6 -> 9 a person learns a lot about fiction. About "making fiction work for you!"

Considering that there *is* embellishment in the 8 or 9 story, I nevertheless take the 5 or 6 story as veridical.

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Response to delrem (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 01:49 AM

7. So basically you are saying "cool story, bro" to a recounting of a pre-Holocaust story.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:11 AM

10. I'm saying that in this particular case, I'm doubtful. The imagery is too iconic, too poetic,

to be real.

And I also said to you that no, I have nothing but my gut instinct to guide me.
I do *know* without a spark of doubt that you're a person who will try to paint me as a war criminal, or an advocate of war criminality, for doubting this story. But fuckit, BtA, I don't care a bit.

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Response to delrem (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:20 AM

12. I know you don't care, as your posts speak for themselves.

But, it is very enlightening to be sure.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:41 AM

16. As is your response, BtA. As is your response. nt

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Response to delrem (Reply #16)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 04:49 AM

19. Another "cool story" for you.

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Response to delrem (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:47 AM

18. What specific part of the story do you doubt?

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Response to delrem (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:02 AM

8. I'm not convinced that it's fantasy at all....

How a child at this age views an event is going to be distorted to some degree...even to the point of the ridiculous.

I was in an awful car accident when I was young. I remember certain things happening and when I spoke to my mother about them, she would say, yes, but it really happened this way. What I remembered was similar, but different in reality.

It's possible that this child saw the woman say those things, a glass dislodged causing that and even other things falling on her. His mind may only remember the piece of glass falling on her and the blood. It easily could have been something else that he doesn't recall.

The fact that he not only witnessed some horrors during a nightmarish time in history, he was also traumatized which can color and change perception.

I do think he believes he saw what he saw.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #8)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:08 AM

9. I don't doubt that people believe their own fantasies.

But we're not speaking of a child of 5, or 9, but of a mature adult reminiscing about the past.

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Response to delrem (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:17 AM

11. So, you think childhood memories that are distorted by a traumatizing event...

somehow become more realistic as they get older?

In my experience, my memories (even though they are distorted) haven't changed. They're the same. I know that they are not accurate by what my mother has told me of the event.

I don't think there is anything wrong with questioning the accuracy considering not just when he was a child, but now that he's an old man it's probably wise to not completely take his word as well.

I don't think it makes him or his trauma less credible despite what he remembers and what really happened. Disconnects like this are not unusual.

I wonder if he suffers from some form of PTSD. That can most definitely impact memories.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #11)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:26 AM

14. Please don't put your thoughts in my head!

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Response to delrem (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:21 AM

13. What is your point in trying to discredit this account?

You keep referring to what this man recalls of that night as fantasies. You are trying to speak with authority about what a mature adult can recall when they were a child in a pivotal point in history. I recall my aunt and uncle in Brooklyn, still having the number tattoos on their arms. Do you consider that a fantasy as well because I was five at the time?

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 02:28 AM

15. The pain of being told you must not be who you are - is mental abuse. If there is any fault to be

found in this account, as a few seem to believe, it should be chalked up to that.

I cannot see how he could recount this without a feeling of bitterness. He is still hurting, and strangely enough, very determined to stay at the same place that hated him so much.

To have seen what his eyes had seen, and to further know what he knows was done as the result of the Nazi belief he was not a human, but a 'dirty rat,' an enemy to mankind as they told their people for years leading up to this event - such things are not likely to be forgotten.

I had a chance to be in an suburban psychiatrist hospital in the eighties and get to know people there. One in particular became particularly attached to me and had several bad days.

He was an old man, who survived a concentration camp. I forgot which one. I spoke with his grand children who brought him in as he was having one of his flashback episodes.

He showed me the crudely made tattoo on one arm, with his number scrawled on his skin. Like a piece of livestock.

He was terrified in the evenings, as the facility had security, not for the patients in this very modern, pleasant facility who patrolled the grounds at night and checked the doors.

He was obsessed with the thought, crazy as it was after all these years, that these were the very same guards in the camp forty years earlier.

He kept saying, 'They will come in soon, we must hide, they are going to come in here.' And I kept assuring him they would not, but he wasn't really there, you know?

No, he was back in the days when the guards came in to beat them and do other things, or drag them out and kill them. The change in milieu did not mean a thing. The flood of memory distorted the present.

I've been around people in the midst of what is called a 'psychotic break.' They are not in the 'here and now,' they cannot escape their nightmare.

I suggest any criticism of this account should be judged in that context. As late as the sixties, I knew Jews in my city whose parents had fled Germany and were first generation. The simple mention of Germany, the language, or anything, freaked them out. They were not being politically correct nor did they seek pity. They were panicked.

Who is to say if this is the best way to describe what happened in those days?

I know people in Norway whose grandparents dealt with the fallout of Nazi occupation; others who are in Germany of this and older generations who saw first hand what we have not and the history books have sanitized.

Anyone can fault Jews for anything they want, but their paranoia is not a fraud. If anyone believes that this did not happen, they should get to know some Jews firsthand.

JMHO.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 9, 2013, 03:38 PM

20. +1

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