Thursday, September 21, 2023

Marking the Centenary of Berlin's Scheunenviertel Pogrom

 It was, as claimed, the first pogrom in Berlin.

It took place in the Scheunenviertel (Barn) quarter in the first week of November 1923. It was termed the "Ostjudenpogrom". The area is today, less than one-half square mile, is now Berlin's Mitte district, not far from the historic city center, north of the city wall between Hackescher Markt and today's Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.

Earlier in 1923:

the Berlin police chief Wilhelm Richter ordered a large-scale raid against the Jewish population in the Scheunenviertel, during which around 300 Jewish men [eventually to reach some 1500], women and children were picked up by the police and interned in a “Jewish camp” near Zossen, a chilling precursor to what would happen over the next 20 years.

That referred to

popular violence against Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe during the Weimar Republic, their incarceration in camps in Pomerania and Bavaria during the early 1920s

Specifically,  the so-called Bavarian “Ostjuden Deportation” of October 1923 when Gustav Ritter von Kahr was appointed by Bavarian President Eugen von Knilling (BVP) as state commissioner general (Generalstaatskommissar) with dictatorial powers under Article 64 of the Bamberg (Bavarian) Constitution. Kahr refused to ban the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, on 29 September he suspended the enforcement in Bavaria of the Law for the Protection of the Republic and in mid-October, Kahr had several hundred Jewish families who had immigrated from Eastern Europe decades earlier expelled from Bavaria (See: "The Expulsion of Jews with Polish Citizenship from Bavaria in 1923, Józef Adelson, POLIN, 2008). 

As reported in the JTA on Ocotober 29, 

Two hundred Jewish families have already been expelled from Bavaria and as many are awaiting deportation... including Jews who, while not subjects of the Bavarian State, are citizens of the Reich...A number of East-European Jews from Austria are also among the evicted. The houses owned by the deportees have been requisitioned for the alleged purpose of housing the refugees from the Ruhr district...The Voelkishe Beabachter, organ of Adolph Hitler, disregarding the Jews’ plea, continues the publication of the names of Jews not yet expelled, demanding the confiscation of their property as well as of those already deported.

Moreover, "an order has been issued by Dictator von Kahr to the Jews expelled from Bavaria, that their property must not be removed from the country. Jewish business men and manufacturers have received orders from the police authorities that the machinery and equipment of their factories as well as their products must remain in Bavaria, and their factories must be conducted in their absence by managers appointed for the purpose." 

The event went international at the end of November when

Foreign Minister Roman Dmowski of Poland has addressed a new note to Bavaria protesting the expulsions from Bavaria of Jews who are Polish citizens...the deportations are contrary to international law as well as the common principles of humanity. In conclusion, M. Dmowski threatens to order the deportation of German citizens on Polish soil if the expulsions of Polish citizens are continued.

Austria and Spain became involved.

To return to the events of the Berlin pogrom:

Jews of Berlin Attacked by Mob of 30,000  November 6, 1923

"...a mob of 30,000 stronge invaded the Jewish sections of the city and carried out the first pogrom in the history of Berlin. Anti-Jewish riots commencing in the afternoon in Grenadierstrasse, and Dragonerstrasse, inhabited largely by East-European Jews, 

spread by the evening to all quarters of the city housing Jewish residents...No Jew was safe on Berlin streets yesterday and it is too early to say that greater security prevails today. Jewish passers by were stopped at every turn, were searched, maltreated, robbed of their possessions and stripped of their clothes, some being left only in their undergarments. Homes of Jews were searched for food and money, owners offering the least resistance being severely beaten.

Shops owned by Jews were plundered of their contents which were hurled through the windows smashed by the hooligans in order to gain entrance. Jewish tenement dwellers were dragged from their beds and driven to the streets in their night clothes.

...That the anti-Jewish riots were premeditated and well-organized is shown by the fact that on a given signal the plundering and mobbing would begin, and at a sign from a specially organized corp the anti-Jewish excesses would end.

...The Tageblatt and the Local Anzeiger remark it is significant that the mob attack was not sporadic, but broke out simultaneously in the Muezastrasse, Gormmanstrasse, Linienstrasse, Grenadierstrasse, Dragonerstrasse. Lilienstrasse, where many residences and practically all shops were systematically plundered, the wares being distributed among the waiting crowd. Especially in the clothing and piece-goods district were the wares seized and cut up to be carried away by the rioters...Herr Kopf, manager of the “Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith” received several blows from a black-jack as he was caught in a crowd swarming towards the Boerse and shouting “Death to Jews”.

Reports {as referenced in Dunker, Der Reichsbund judischer Frontsoldaten 1919-1938: Geschichte eines judischen Abwehrvereins, 53; "Der Bund judischer Frontsoldaten vor Gericht," Judische Rundschau, no. 40 (1924)}  noted

While the police had not arrived members of the Reichsbund Judischer Frontsoldaten (Jewish Veteran Association) assembled at the Jewish community centre on the nearby Rosenstrasse. Cadres of members, some of which were armed with pistols and rubber truncheons were formed and began patrolling the area, guarding synagogues and defending local Jews against the looters. On Bulowplatz, the Reichsbund cadres clashed with a group of some hundred rioters. In this situation, the veterans seek support from a passing by police patrol that refuses and leaves the area. In the following melee, a shot rang out fatally wounding a rioter.

The failure of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch in Bavaria did not deter the authorities there from halting the earlier deportations.

A precursor to the atmosphere which allowed Hitler to commence the Holocaust.


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