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