83 years since Kristallnacht: “Jews are still unsafe”

Eve Kugler, a Holocaust survivor who was just a child when Kristallnacht occurred in Germany, returned to her hometown Halle, and visited the synagogue that was attacked on Yom Kippur two years ago

  (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Kugler: “I felt that the attack on the synagogue was a personal attack on me. I could not believe that Jews were being attacked in synagogues again.” 

Eve Kugler was only 7 years old when the Gestapo broke into her home. Although the soldiers put her and her sister, Ruth, in a room and closed the door behind them, she will never forget what happened on the terrible night of November 9, 1938. “The soldiers took my grandfather, Rabbi Marcus Kugler, while he was studying Gemara,” Eve said. “They took my father too, and after they left, we ran to the window and saw the synagogue that my father had helped build, going up in flames.” 

1,400 synagogues were burned throughout Germany and Austria in an organized Nazi pogrom, on the night known as “Kristallnacht”. Eve, who lived on the third floor of the building in which her parents had a large store, says that her mother went in search of her father, who was sent to Buchenwald, when there was no response, she went down to clean the glass that was shattered at night: “Mother raced to the police station just across the street to look for father. The policeman told her that there was no place for Jews in Germany,” said Eve as she stood by the building that used to be the police station. 

 Eve next to the building that served as the police station during the Holocaust (credit: SAM CHURCHILL) Eve next to the building that served as the police station during the Holocaust (credit: SAM CHURCHILL)

A few weeks later, Eve and her family were able to free their father from Buchenwald thanks to a visa they received to leave Germany. The family managed to escape to France, and Eve and her older sister Ruth were sent to the United States where the two stayed with foster families until they reunited with their parents after the War: ‘My parents wanted to get us out of Europe,” said Eve. “They understood that they had to part with us in order to save us and sent us off to America.” 

(credit: SAM CHURCHILL)(credit: SAM CHURCHILL)

Eve, who lives in London, accompanies the annual “March of the Living” delegations from the UK to the German extermination camps in Poland and she recently returned with the organization's first delegation to Germany during COVID. As part of the delegation, Eve returned to her childhood home in Halle and also visited the synagogue in the city, which was built after the Holocaust, and was attacked by an anti-Semite 2/3 years ago on Yom Kippur. Two Jews were killed in this attack and a more serious assault was averted thanks to the strong door at the entrance of the building. 

 Eve standing at the door to the Halle synagogue, pierced with the bullets fired by the antisemitic terrorist (credit: SAM CHURCHILL) Eve standing at the door to the Halle synagogue, pierced with the bullets fired by the antisemitic terrorist (credit: SAM CHURCHILL)

“When I heard the news of the attack on the synagogue in Halle, everything came back to me. I felt it was a personal attack on me,” says Eve. “The world has not learned its lesson and Jews are still unsafe.”

While in the synagogue, for the first time, Eve came across the names of her grandfather and her relatives who had perished in the Holocaust: “To this day, I thought that my grandfather and relatives who perished in the Holocaust were not commemorated anywhere. I am moved to tears to see their names here on the wall. They have been perpetuated and their memory will never be forgotten,” said Eve in tears. 

Eve participates in the global initiative of the March of Life to mark “Kristallnacht” – “Let there be light” in which prayer houses, public institutions and private homes are lit up with lights of hope on November 9th, symbolically combating anti-Semitism and racism. The message that Eve, and many Holocaust survivors, wish to convey will be screened on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Eve calls on others to join the initiative “both in memory of the victims murdered on Kristallnacht and to ensure that what happened would never again occur.