It’s been a tough few weeks in the United States after 11 Jewish people were slaughtered in their own Temple in Pittsburgh. This year is the 80th Anniversary of one of the most important events of the Holocaust, a nationwide assault on the Jews by Hitler’s third Reich.
“Terrified is what you would call it.”
Imagine this, you’re 6 years old, you watch your home get destroyed and people get killed right before your eyes.
Those are the memories of Manfred “Manny” Klepper.
Manny looks back on that tragic day in Germany, Kristallnacht also referred to as the night of broken glass.
“We’re only approx 40-50 families of Jews who lived there at the time.”
The Kleppers were a normal Jewish family living in Germany until November 9th, 1938.
“There was a knock on the door my mother opened the door there were 6 guys standing at the door,” recalled Klepper. “They pushed the door open and came in. They had bats.”
“They were breaking glass and breaking furniture. This is what they called Kristallnacht.”
Manny and his siblings were in the cellar.
“You cant even imagine what it looked like when we went upstairs.”
It wasn’t just homes and businesses destroyed that night.
“In fact 257 synagogues were destroyed that night,” said UL Associate professor, Richard Frankel.
Luckily, Manny survived and lived to tell his story but for nearly 100 others their lives were cut short that night.
Manny recalls the entire community being told to gather in front of the convent next to his apartment. Five people lined up in front.
“When they lifted up the tarp from a car that pulled up, there was a machine gun,” said Klepper.
Manny witnessed those five people get slaughtered in front of everyone.
“Danielle, its still on my mind. I had nightmares and my mother used to wake me up in the middle of the night. I went to a psychologist for help.”
UL Associate professor of German history, Richard Frankel says in comparison to the holocaust people are often less educated about this day in history.
“At the time it was extreme but it can get overshadowed by of course what’s even worse to come,” stated Frankel.
Lives were lost, homes destroyed but memories never forgotten.
“I still have tears in my eyes when I talk about it,” said Manny. “I still remember those 5 people I saw murdered in cold blood. I will never ever forget that.”
And in the eyes of a 6 year old boy, moments like this according to Manny, will never be understood.
“I asked my mother, why are they tearing up our apartment? She just had no words, she said this is how they treat Jews in Germany.
Manny didn’t start to talk publicly about his experiences until the 70th anniversary of the event. Now not only does he have a book, he’s talked to children in cities across the state.
You can buy Manny’s book here on Amazon.com. All proceeds benefit Temple Shalom in Lafayette.