Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Jews of Berlin Attacked by Mob of 30,000

November 6, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The German nationalists’ furious agitation against the Jews came to a head yesterday when a mob of 30,000 stronge invaded the Jewish sections of the city and carried out the first pogrom in the history of Berlin.

Anti-Jewish riots commencing in the afternoon in Grenadierstrasse, and Dragonerstrasse, inhabited largely by East-European Jews, spread by the evening to all quarters of the city housing Jewish residents. The mob took advantage of the darkness enveloping the Jewish section to strike additional terror in the hearts of the already horror-stricken Jews. Unspeakable noises filled the narrow streets for hours. The pogromists were not daunted by the presence of the police, who remained strikingly inactive and ineffective throughout.

Hundreds of Jews were taken into custody by the police ostensibly as a means of protecting them from their assailants. Some were arrested on the charge of disturbing the peace. The maltreated prisoners include Dr. Hugo Bernhardt, a physician with a record of four years service in the trenches, who has not completely recovered from the war wounds, whose arm was broken by his assailants.

A report in the Vossische Zeitung says Jewish prisoners were being maltreated by the police.

Police Chief Kaupisch, denying the charges of brutality or partiality against his men, issued an order of the day directing the police to protect the lives and property of the citizens, regardless of religious differences.

No Jew was safe on Berlin streets yesterday and it is too early to say that greater security prevails today. Jewish passers by were stopped at every turn, were searched, maltreated, robbed of their possessions and stripped of their clothes, some being left only in their undergarments.

Homes of Jews were searched for food and money, owners offering the least resistance being severely beaten.

Shops owned by Jews were plundered of their contents which were hurled through the windows smashed by the hooligans in order to gain entrance. Jewish tenement dwellers were dragged from their beds and driven to the streets in their night clothes.

Much of this pogrom activity, unmistakably inspired by the inflamatory speeches against the “Jewish speculators” delivered to crowds of unemployed in nearly all parts of the city, went on under the eyes of the police and reserves, who maintained an attitude described as “benefolent neutrality”.

That the anti-Jewish riots were premeditated and well-organized is shown by the fact that on a given signal the plundering and mobbing would begin, and at a sign from a specially organized corp the anti-Jewish excesses would end.

It is difficult at present to estimate the number of seriously injured among the hundreds of men and women who were beaten by the infuriated rioters. Nor can the extent of the damage be ascertained. Once the rioting started the angry mob did not stop to select its victims. Aged women and men, were trampled under foot together with children and able-bodied persons. At least two men and one woman are at the point of death.

The papers this morning ascribe the responsibility for yesterday’s riots to the determined and ruthless Voelkische propaganda against the Jews carried on for months among the unemployed. It is pointed out that the mob was led yesterday by trained officers and signalists and cyclists who were far from being either ill-fed or ill-clothed.

The Tageblatt and the Local Anzeiger remark it is significant that the mob attack was not sporadic, but broke out simultaneously in the Muezastrasse, Gormmanstrasse, Linienstrasse, Grenadierstrasse, Dragonerstrasse. Lilienstrasse, where many residences and practically all shops were systematically plundered, the wares being distributed among the waiting crowd. Especially in the clothing and piece-goods district were the wares seized and cut up to be carried away by the rioters.

Many Jews who were organized by midnight to resist the attack sustained severe injuries although they succeeded partially in preventing plunder on an even larger scale.

Herr Kopf, manager of the “Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith” received several blows from a black-jack as he was caught in a crowd swarming towards the Boerse and shouting “Death to Jews”.

Recommended from JTA