Painting survives the Night of Broken Glass in Nazi Germany November 1938
inMay 27, 2011 - 12:24pm
Last year, my husband told me that the 94-year-old mother of one of his close friends was moving from her large apartment to a tiny senior's residence. He asked if I would be interested in an oil painting she had offered to give him since she no longer had a place to hang it.
When he told me it was of a vase of flowers, I thought, "Well, sounds boring, but maybe it will work in our front room". Shortly after that, he brought the painting home and I was struck by how beautiful it was and surprised that I actually liked it. As beautiful as it was, I asked if it had been repaired since there appeared to be the trace of two large slash marks through it. That's when he told me the story about this painting.
Back in the 1930's, this painting had belonged to a very wealthy Jewish family in Dusseldorf, Germany. During Kristallnacht, also referred to as "The Night of Broken Glass" Nazi soldiers broke into homes and shops all over Nazi Germany and parts of Austria ransacking and destroying property leaving the streets covered in broken glass from windows. This painting had been hanging in one of those houses and slashed by Nazi soldiers. Later, the owner returned the painting to the German artist (unknown) for repair. The painting was restored and then returned to the owner. This 94-year-old friend of my husband had married the son of the original owner of this painting.
We recently had the opportunity to travel to the home of Mildred, the 94-year-old woman who had given the painting to us. That's when she told me what her husband had witnessed on that dreadful night back in November, 1938. Nazi soldiers had broken into their home and tied up his father, himself and his brother. They then went through the home smashing and destroying what they could including this beautiful painting. I sat there in awe listening to this unbelievable account and I just knew I had to seize the opportunity to save this story with the painting. Mildred happily agreed to write down the events surrounding the damage to the painting in her own words on a card for me.
Now, this beautiful painting and the history behind it has been preserved, in the owner's own handwriting, on lovely stationery bearing her name. It will stay attached to the back of this painting so this story will never be lost or forgotten.