Oral History

Hanne Hirsch Liebmann describes the effects of Kristallnacht (the "Night of Broken Glass")

Hanne's family owned a photographic studio. In October 1940, she and other family members were deported to the Gurs camp in southern France. In September 1941, the Children's Aid Society (OSE) rescued Hanne and she hid in a children's home in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Her mother perished in Auschwitz. In 1943, Hanne obtained false papers and crossed into Switzerland. She married in Geneva in 1945 and had a daughter in 1946. In 1948, she arrived in the United States.


Kristallnacht, I went to school in the morning, Jewish school obviously, and something seemed wrong, yet I didn't know what. And when I came to school and I mentioned that I saw the fire engines standing in front of a building and in the back of this building was the Orthodox synagogue, I was told, "Don't you know what's going on?" And I said, "No, I don't." She said...this one told me, "My father was arrested. This father was arrested," and it was just a terrible situation. The teachers, other than the female teachers, did not come in. They were arrested. And they sent us home, I think, after about two hours. And when I came home all our show windows had been smashed. My mother was sweeping up the street. Okay. To the taunts and harassment of the population or the people who were made to look like population. Uh...next to us was a store that dealt in oriental carpets. The show windows gone. Inks thrown over the carpets. It was...it was impossible. The only reason our apartment and business was not touched at the time was that they simply knew there was not a man to be arrested, so our apartment and our business upstairs remained intact.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
View Archival Details

This content is available in the following languages

Thank you for supporting our work

We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.