On the Anniversary of Kristallnacht, a Rare Story of Two Righteous Gentiles

When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, Friedrich and Pauline Kellner, known to their neighbors as longtime opponents of the Nazis, left Mainz for the small town of Laubach, hoping to avoid trouble with the new government. Friedrich found work there as the manager of a courthouse, which also afforded him some small amount of protection. The Kellners’ grandson, Robert Scott Kellner, describes how they helped a Jewish family in the town:

As worried Jews sought to leave Germany, a Jewish woman in Laubach, Hulda Heynemann, approached Pauline for help. The police had brought false charges against her son-in-law, Julius Abt, to confiscate his property. Friedrich . . . and Pauline helped Abt get to the port in Hamburg to leave for America. The Heynemanns’ daughter, Lucie, expecting a child, remained behind until she gave birth. The Kellners helped mother and infant son get away as well. They tried to convince Lucie’s parents to leave with her, but the Heynemann family had been in Laubach for generations, and the old couple felt certain their neighbors would do them no harm. . . .

The Heynemanns made a mistake trusting their neighbors. On the moonlit night of November 9, 1938, during an orchestrated nationwide frenzy of religious and racial hatred [that came to be known as Kristallnacht], Friedrich and Pauline Kellner tried vainly to halt the mob seeking to attack the town’s Jews. The judge who presided over the court, Ludwig Schmitt, refused Friedrich’s request to bring the Jewish families into the courthouse for protection. . . .

Friedrich wanted to press charges against the leaders of the stormtroopers [who led the assault], bringing his and Pauline’s written testimony to Judge Schmitt. The judge angrily denounced him and said [that the leader of the local Nazi women’s group] had demanded an investigation into Pauline’s ancestry to see if she had Jews in her family—nothing else could explain why the wife of a justice official sent her son to America to avoid army service, did not cooperate with the women’s group, and helped Jews. “And we have questions about you, too,” the judge said ominously to Friedrich, telling him the matter was already in the hands of the state authorities in Darmstadt.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Kristallnacht, Righteous Among the Nations

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics