Las Vegas-area Kristallnacht survivors to share stories

Joseph Frank was about a year old the night Nazi troops raided his home and detained his father as part of Kristallnacht, a two-day massacre throughout Germany in which about 100 Jews were killed and their communities were left in ruins.

“They smashed everything to pieces,” said Frank, 81, of Henderson. “My mother told me they turned my carriage upside down and threw me out. … As they were breaking up everything, my mother noticed one of them. They were friends before, and it turned out he was the head of that SS force. When he recognized her, my mother said to him, ‘How could you be doing this to us?’ ”

About 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses and hundreds of Jewish synagogues, schools, homes and even graveyards were vandalized Nov. 10, 1938. The coordinated raid, also known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” reflected the Nazis’ escalation from exclusionary policies to violence targeting Jews.

Frank will be in the crowd as several other Las Vegas-area Kristallnacht survivors tell their stories at 2 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Sholom in Summerlin. The hourlong talk, which was planned to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, comes as the Jewish community mourns the slayings of 11 people Oct. 27 at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

‘Nowhere to go’

German SS troops arrested about 30,000 Jewish men, including Frank’s father, and sent them to concentration camps. Frank is one of hundreds of children who were left abandoned.

“The only way to get out was if somebody, a relative of yours, could get you a visa to leave Germany,” said Frank, whose family was living in Edelfingen, about 80 miles southeast of Frankfurt. “The problem was, there was nowhere to go because no other country wanted to let us in. Luckily, my mother had a brother in London that was willing to put up a bond. He would vouch for us so we wouldn’t be a ‘burden on English government.’ He sent us a visa. Then they let my father leave, and we got on a train to London.”

In March 1940, Frank and his family migrated to the United States. His mother had another brother in New York who vouched for them. Frank moved to the Las Vegas Valley in 2005.

Alexander Kuechel, 94, was 14 when his father was taken by Nazi soldiers during Kristallnacht. They were reunited a year later and moved to Krakow, Poland, with his mother. Two years later, they were living in Chrzanow, about 30 miles east of Krakow, when Kuechel was picked up by the police and sent to a concentration camp. His parents were sent shortly afterward to Auschwitz, where they were killed. He was shuffled among seven concentration camps in Poland at 17, he said.

“We were in no man’s land in Germany,” said Kuechel, who now lives in Summerlin. “There were hundreds of concentration camps. It was almost impossible to escape. Germans would take you right away and denounce you and shoot you on the spot. Escaping was unheard of. Anyone who tried was killed. You had to have family in another country vouching for you. My sister tried with her husband and their 2-month-old. They gassed all three of them.”

Kuechel left Germany on Dec. 17, 1949, four years after World War II ended. He was 26. He moved to New York and went to night school. A year later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he got his diploma at Dorsey High School while working at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Kuechel worked in real estate for about 15 years and moved to the Las Vegas area in 1996 with his wife, Lilo, after retiring. She’s also a Kristallnacht survivor.

‘Not just Jewish history’

“This is a very important aspect of human history,” said Esther Finder, 65, of Henderson, organizer of Saturday’s event and president of the Holocaust Survivors of Southern Nevada. “It’s not just Jewish history. It’s human history. There are so many things we are seeing today that sadly go back to what was going on in Germany. It starts small. It doesn’t start with killing people. It didn’t start with gas chambers. That’s just how it ended.”

Finder, also the president of Generations of the Shoah-Nevada, is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. She became president of Holocaust Survivors of Southern Nevada in 2016 and founded Generations of the Shoah about eight years ago. As part of her mission, she organizes events to help keep Holocaust survivors’ legacy alive as their numbers in the Las Vegas area dwindle. She estimated that 100 remain in the region.

“I remember my mother telling me a story once,” Finder said. “She needed salt or sugar for her mother, and she went to a neighbor that she felt very close to. My family is from Poland. The Polish woman turned her away and told her, ‘Don’t come back again.’ As a child, the lady used to bribe my mother with a ‘candy for a kiss.’ That’s how close they’d been. But in Poland, if you were caught helping a Jew, not only would you be killed, but your whole family could be killed.”

Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Life
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like