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Churban Europe: The Annihilation of European Jewry
By Mrs. Hinde Gordon

Churban Europe: The Annihilation of European Jewry

December 31 / January 1, 1900 – midnight over the world

In the streets people are dancing, singing, welcoming the new century.

The new world

A world of science and technology, of art, music, literature

A world of manners and culture.

A new world

To be without war – with peace forever.

The new world of the rational man, the enlightened man

The man who can probe the secrets of the universe

Who can solve all the problems that beset the old century

The man of brilliance, power, charisma.

 

The new world

Without G-d

Without morality

Without conscience.

 

Without G-d.

And, so, it would be

The new world of the barbarian

Of darkness and destruction

Of evil bubbling under a mannerly facade

Of rage and hatred waiting to erupt

Into a conflagration designed to kill every Jew in the world.

 

The Jew in the new century

Most were buffeted about by the winds of change

By storms of hatred

Despised

Poverty stricken

At the mercy of merciless rulers.

Some found life, truth, power by clinging to the Torah, to G-d;

Too many found the facade of power by joining the gentile world

By casting Torah and G-d into the dustbin.

For the Torah Jew existential strength and dignity;

For the Jew without Torah, without G-d, emptiness, a starving soul

The frantic chase after glitter that is not gold.

 

August, 1914 – November, 1919

The First World War – “the war to end all wars”

Spawned by the race for armaments

During enlightened conversations about lasting peace among enemies.

The war of the trenches, of attrition

The loss of a generation of young men

The loss of dreams.

At the end, the League of Nations

The tool developed in the Treaty of Versailles to secure peace.

A source of derision and disdain among the barbarians.

At the end, the intensification of Jew hatred

The traitor, the moneygrubber, the cause of the world’s misery.

 

1921: the formation of the Nationalist Socialist Workers Party (Nazi)

The rise of Adolph Hitler

The unsuccessful house painter

The Postal Office Clerk

The corporal, wounded fighting for The Fatherland

Evil incarnate dedicated to the annihilation of the Jews.

The charismatic leader of perverts, murderers, common criminals

Of bankers, industrialists, educators, students, the church.

The mannerly culture of evil

The partnership of barbarians to kill Jews.

 

1928 until the advent of war: the Great Depression

The anguish of a world economy in a shambles.

The whisper that became a roar:

The Jews – they did it

The Jews – they control the world economy

The Jews – hate them, destroy them before they destroy us.

 

January 30, 1933: Hitler became the German Reich Chancellor

His program intact:

Abrogate the Treaty of Versailles

Destroy the Jews

Achieve full employment

A resilient economy

Based on war.

 

And, so it was that

The catastrophic Churban

Began in that very place

Where Jews said “Berlin is Yerushalyim”

And, in saying thus, discarded the Torah,

Discarded G-d.

The horrific Churban began

Not in Eastern Europe

Where Jews looked like Jews

With payos, beards, black hats, black suits.

But in Germany where Jews thought they were Germans

Looked like Germans

And Germans knew they were Jews.

 

1933:

Establishment of Dachau, the first of many concentration camps

Outbreak of rioting and atrocities against Jews

Establishment of the Gestapo

Public burning of Jewish books

Laws to legally define, ostracize, and pauperize the Jews

Laws to destroy Torah, Judaism, the Jewish people.

Withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations.

The western nations sat and watched quietly as the world began to crumble.

And so on and on the world marched to war and catastrophe.

 

September 29-30, 1938 - Munich Conference

The destruction of Czechoslovakia

Betrayal followed betrayal

Appeasement followed appeasement.

The Jews, helpless victims, with no place to run, no place to hide

The Jews were expendable, their destruction marked by the world in silent assent.

 

November 9-10, 1938 – Kristallnacht – Germany and Austria

300, 000 Jews arrested

Unknown number of Jews murdered

191 synagogues destroyed

7,500 Jewish shops.

Jewish community required to pay one billion marks as compensation for damages.

The beginning of the end for European Jewry

Some few Jews escaped; most could not.

 

September 1, 1939 – German invasion of Poland

September 3, 1939 – England and France declared war on Germany

Europe is plunged into darkness

The maelstrom into which European Jewry is plunged and murdered

The process of killing all Jews refined in Poland

The assimilated Jew along with his brother, the Torah Jew

Ghettos

Judenrats

Isolation

The yellow star

Impoverishment

Starvation

Disease

Terrorism

Slave labor

A paroxysm of cruelty, sadism, torture

Concentration camps – extermination camps

For most, the pain-filled path to death

For many, the pain-filled path to greatness, to heroism, to Kiddush Hashem.

 

April 9, 1940 – Germany occupied Denmark and Norway

1940 – Germany conquered The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Belguim,

June 22, 1940 – Germany conquered France

1941 –Germany conquered Yugoslavia and Greece

June 22, 1941 – Germany attacked its ally Russia and marched into its heartland

Millions of Jews fall under the Nazi yoke

Six million innocent Jews are ultimately slaughtered in unspeakably evil ways

By the most cultured, advanced nation in the world

As the free world watched in silent assent.

 

December 7, 1941 – America entered the war

November 2, 1942 – Germany defeated at El Alamein

January, 1943 – Germany defeated outside of Stalingrad

July 1943 – Allies invaded Sicily and marched toward Rome

March 19, 1944 – Germany invaded its ally, Hungary, for not killing enough Jews

June 6, 1944 – Allies invaded Normandy and marched toward Germany

The tide of war turned against the Nazis

Yet, the trains, the cattle cars, loaded with Jews rolled on and on

Picking up Jews in ghetto transit camps

Rather than carrying war materials to the front.

Carrying Jews to death or slave labor – quick death or slow death or survival

In the killing camps.

 

The trains rolled on and on and on

As Torah Jews exhibited countless, unbelievable acts of Kiddush Hashem

Sanctification of life and dignity in death

The ultimate resistance.

The nobility of the Jew

The greatness of the Jew.

As Torah Jews frantically tried to save Jews, any Jew

Alone, unaided, maligned

Sometimes they succeeded

But never as much as they hoped and dreamed.

 

And, then, wounded, in pain, broken, but undaunted

Torah Jews rebuilt the world of Torah

In Eretz Yisroel, America, England, Canada, South Africa, Australia.

A new world of Torah

Rising from the ashes of our holy dead

Of our holy survivors

Our mothers and fathers

Our grandparents

Our children

Those great Jews

Who clung to Torah, to G-d,

Even in the depths of hell.

 

April 30, 1945 – Hitler committed suicide in his bunker

Commanding his people to continue killing Jews.

May 8, 1945 – Germany surrendered.

September 2, 1945 – Japan surrendered.

The war is over.

European Jewry is gone.

But Am Yisroel Chai – the promise of G-d fulfilled

His Jewish nation will live forever

Clinging to His gift

The Torah that He has given each of us

His treasured children

His beloved servants

To build a new world of light, of Torah.

An interim world built to welcome the Mashiach

Bringing the eternal world of peace, justice, truth

Of  G-d.

Copyright 2004, Hinde Gordon

Mrs. Gordon is a Guest Lecturer at EYAHT. Her annual course on the Holocaust is called "Churban Europe 1933-1945/6 and the Years Leading Up to the Annihilation of European Jewry." For more information, contact Mrs. Gordon at akivhind@actcom.net.il.