Testimony by

Sophie Hirn

Sophie Hirn was nine years old when she experienced the November pogroms. She reports on how being excluded by the Nazis ultimately strengthened her relationship to Jewish tradition.

Sophie Hirn with one of the two old ladies who took her in after going on a Kindertransport to the UK (United Kingdom, 1939)

“They smashed all the glasses, all the mirrors – everything.”

“During Kristallnacht, eight men forced their way into our apartment. I was alone with my grandmother; my mother only came home later. They smashed all the glasses, all the mirrors – simply everything. I stayed with my aunt Hulda and Leopold [her son] for a few days until most of the broken glass had been swept up.

Like all Jewish children I had to go to a Jewish school. The school I went to was situated in Castellezgasse. There was no real mood for learning there, and fewer and fewer pupils attended; one girl moved to Palestine, while others immigrated elsewhere. We talked a lot about immigration among ourselves as well as with our teachers.

“At home we started – under my influence – to live a traditional Jewish life. ”

In that period, I had very intense religious classes and was thus introduced for the first time to Jewish tradition, which was made very accessible to us at school; we also celebrated the Jewish holidays. We learned a lot about Purim and I was impressed by the story of Esther and Haman. At Purim 1938 I wrote a very long poem.

At home we started – under my influence – to live a traditional Jewish life. My grandmother was familiar with the traditions and so we also celebrated seder, but only once, and lit the candles at Chanukkah.”

Original recording of Sophie Hirn (Source: Centropa)

Big photo a the top:

Sophie Hirn in Vienna with children from her grammar school class.

Photo taken in:

Vienna (1936)


Sophie Hirn

Year of the interview:



Tanja Eckstein


Learn more about Sophie Hirn?

You can find the complete biography here on the Centropa website (in German only).

You can also find many more photos of Sophie Hirn and her family in the Centropa photography database.


Want to learn more about the November Pogroms?

The reports and films featured on this site are just a glimpse into the multi-faceted history of the November Pogroms in 1938. We’ve put together an extensive directory of resources to help you deepen your knowledge.

The image in the background shows a destroyed shoe store in Vienna on November 10, 1938
(Photo: Wiener Library/DöW F. Nr. 6392)

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