"Anyone can go to the Holocaust museum [in Washington DC] but not everyone gets this experience." ~A. Speitel (student, 17)
Ilse Lindemeyer Speaks to Jewish Life
The Holocaust Awareness Museum sponsored Ilse Lindemeyer’s presentation of her Kristallnacht experiences as a Holocaust survivor to a “Jewish Life” class at the Klein Branch JCC, at the invitation of instructor and Jewish educator Francesca Axe to commemorate the 71rst anniversary of Kristallnacht on Monday, November 9th, 2009.
Ilse, one of the ten thousand Kindertransport children, spoke of her experience as a twelve year old child witness to the horrific events of Kristallnacht in Frankfurt, Germany. “I went to school that day, as I would any day, except there was a smell of smoke in the air. I didn’t realize the smoke came from burning synagogues and Jewish businesses.”
Ilse was sent home as soon as she arrived in school and through her trolley car window witnessed the mass roundup of men placed in trucks by Nazi storm troopers and ordinary German citizens looting a burning Jewish department store. “A woman boarded the trolley holding one shoe in her hand declaring, “When we have killed all the Jews in Germany, I am going to gild this shoe and place it in my china closet as a souvenir.” Ilse told the class of twenty students that she was shaking in fear but some passengers clapped acknowledging their approval of the woman’s statement.
Ilse related her experience on Kristallnacht as she lovingly caressed her great–grandmothers medallion depicting Moses and the Ten Commandments that her grand-mother placed in her pocket when she boarded a kindertransport train to leave Germany alone without her mother and father or family. Ilse’s courage to tell her story is remarkable considering that each time she speaks she has to relive her extraordinary experience of the horrors of violence and hatred over and over again.
Ilse’s presentation is just one of dozens of survivor outreach programs sponsored by the Holocaust Awareness Museum through out the year to students of all ages and backgrounds.