Rabbi Erwin Schild

Hidden from view, Erwin Schild watched a fire burning outside his Würzburg seminary as the sky grew light. It was November 10, 1938, the morning after Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, when a pogrom against Jews swept Germany. A mob of Nazis had stormed the seminary dormitory during the night and hacked the furniture, windows, and mirrors to shards. The attackers had mostly left the students alone, so Erwin made his way to the main building at dawn, hoping to find some calm and order. Someone would explain this to him, he thought.

But no, from where he stood looking into the front courtyard, he saw a great bonfire lunging higher with each new armful of books, tossed in the flames by uniformed storm troopers. The erasure of the Jewish community from Germany took another step forward.

Erwin retreated to his shredded dormitory, having no where else to go. He found his terrified classmates waiting there too. Soon enough, the boys were all marched outside, and then down narrow streets at gun point straight to jail. Days later Gestapo officers herded them onto buses destined, Erwin heard, for Dachau concentration camp. He felt numb.