Christie Pits riot

riot

There is a misconception that most people were appalled about Hitler coming to power in 1933, and that it was only the Germans who endorsed the Nazi policies. But that would be far from the truth.

Hitler’s rise to power was celebrated in many parts of the world, even in Canada.

It’s not hard to imagine Toronto was far  removed from the violence of antisemitism and  Hitler’s rise, but on an August evening in 1933, the hostility that troubled the streets of Berlin reared its ugly head in Toronto during a baseball game at Christie Pits.

In 1933, Jews and other minorities were subjected to  social and institutional bigotry in Canada. Quotas put a limit to the number of Jews who could sign up for  university programs. Social clubs and several corporations banned Jews.

At that time, the Jewish community in Toronto was mainly poor and working-class. During the hot summer months, Jewish families and youths in particular would  cool off by going to the predominantly Anglo-Canadian Beaches area to swim. The local residents were not too pleased about that.

At those Beaches , there weref young men walking down the boardwalk wearing swastika symbols on their bathing suits and shirts, patrolling for what they called “undesirables,” these groups were  called swastika clubs.On August 1, 1933, the “Swastika Club” were reported in the editions of Toronto’s Jewish Standard, which triggered  multiple protest from local Jewish residents.

On August 16, 1933, a gang  who called themselves the Pit Gang unfolded a banner with a swastika at a baseball game between St. Peter’s and  the Harbord Playground team at Christie Pits Park in Toronto. They were targeting the Harbord Playground team, a group of mostly Jewish, and some Italian men, who were playing a game that evening.

(The Harbord Playground baseball team in 1931. ‘City of Toronto Archives’)baseball

The night of the riot was the second game between Harbord and St. Peter’s. Two nights previously, at the first game of the series, another swastika had been displayed. The Police had been  warned in writing that there could be trouble at the second game, but the police did not heed those warnings. As the game ended, a St. Peter’s supporter opened up a large swastika flag as others chanted “Heil Hitler!”. This angered the Jewish supporters who rushed to the flag bearer.Supporters of both sides (including Italians who supported the Jews) from the surrounding area joined in, and a fight started.

A violent five-hour brawl broke out with each side wielding any weapon they could find, including bats, lead pipes, and bottles.

The following day The Toronto Daily Star reported on the riot.

“While groups of Jewish and Gentile youths wielded fists and clubs in a series of violent scraps for possession of a white flag bearing a swastika symbol at Willowvale Park last night, a crowd of more than 10,000 citizens, excited by cries of ‘Heil Hitler’ became suddenly a disorderly mob and surged wildly about the park and surrounding streets, trying to gain a view of the actual combatants, which soon developed in violence and intensity of racial feeling into one of the worst free-for-all’s ever seen in the city.

Scores were injured, many requiring medical and hospital attention … Heads were opened, eyes blackened and bodies thumped and battered as literally dozens of persons, young or old, many of them non-combatant spectators, were injured more or less seriously by a variety of ugly weapons in the hands of wild-eyed and irresponsible young hoodlums, both Jewish and Gentile”

News report

Although people were using baseball bats and knives to attack each other, no one died during the riot.

Mayor Stewart criticized the inadequate response of the Chief of Police to warnings of impending violence, and warned against displaying the swastika.

The riot did reveal the xenophobic attitudes toward Jews and other  immigrants (such as Italian immigrants) among some Anglo Canadians.

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Sources

CBC Radio

Times of Israel

Cities in Time

Myseumof Toronto

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The November pogrom-Kristall nacht.

Kristaal nacht

This is not meant to be an accusation because since I didn’t live in those times, I just don’t know how I would have reacted.

It is however something that has intrigued me.How come the majority of the Germans and Austrians did not see how wrong the November pogrom was? I can nearly understand why they turned a blind eye to the boycott of Jewish shops and even the occasional attack on Jews, they probably thought it was just a few extreme right thugs who carried out those attacks. But Kristall nacht was not just some vandalism, it was a direct nationwide assault on religion and an act of war against the Jews.

During the Night 9-10 November, hundreds of synagogues were destroyed in Austria, Germany, and Sudetenland.

pogrom

While the synagogues were burning, firemen were instructed only to stop the  fires if nearby buildings were threatened by the flames.

At least 91 Jewish citizens were killed and about 30,000 Jewish men were arrested.The excuse used for these attacks was the shooting of diplomat Ernst vom Rath by 17 year old Jewish student Herschel Grynszpan, in Paris.

But in the 1930’s in Germany there had been many other assassinations and they never triggered widespread violence as the November pogrom.

Hugh Greene who worked as a reporter for  The Daily Telegraph in Berlin, wrote the following:

“Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the ‘fun'”

damage

To add insult to injury ,after the event the Jewish community was forced to pay for the damage caused to the synagogues and properties, They were  fined 10 billion Reichsmarks.

If Kristallnacht wasn’t an indication of what the Nazis had planned for the Jews, then what was. There was still time to put a halt to it then, but it seems people had just become to indifferent by then.

paper

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Israel and Sara

Israel

Today marks the 80th anniversary where the Jews in Germany even lost control of their own names.

On 17 August 1938, the Nazi regime decreed that by January 1, 1939, Jewish men and women bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin had to add “Israel” and “Sara,” respectively, to their given names (Namensänderungs verordnung). For their children, only a restricted number of “Jewish” first names were allowed.

name change

The law had already been discussed in 1934. The Nazi lawyer Wilhelm Frick had voiced his concern that the Jews could disguise their identity by changing their names.On July 19 1935 he had introduced a design to Hitler, whereby it was easier to identify Jews by adding something specifically Yiddish to their names.

Frick

Less then 2 years later a decree was passed requiring  Jews bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin to adopt an additional name: “Israel” for men and “Sara” for women.

Sara

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Sources

USHMM

Wikipedia Germany

 

 

1936 Winter Olympics-The forgotten Olympics

 

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The 1936 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games , was a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1936 in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. Germany also hosted the Summer Olympics the same year in Berlin. 1936 is the last year in which the Summer and Winter Games were both held in the same country (the cancelled 1940 games would have been held in Japan, with that country likewise hosting the Winter and Summer games).

Like the 1936 Summer Games the February Winter Games were highly political.

The 1936 Winter Olympics were organized on behalf of the German League of the Reich for Physical Exercise (DRL) by Karl Ritter von Halt. Von Halt had been named President of the Committee for the organization of the Fourth Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen by Reichssportführer Hans von Tschammer und Osten.

hitler-1936-winter-olympics

Nine months before the games were scheduled to begin, discrimination against the Jewish population had become so widespread that the head of the organizing committee, Karl Ritter von Halt, became alarmed and voiced his concerns in a letter to the Interior Ministry in Berlin. Halt emphasized that he didn’t want to be misunderstood — “I am not expressing my concerns in order to help the Jews” — but wrote that “if the propaganda is continued in this form, the population of Garmisch-Partenkirchen will be so inflamed that it will indiscriminately attack and injure anyone who even looks Jewish.”

The Jew-baiting in the Alpine idyll did not go unnoticed abroad. An English reporter who had traveled to the Werdenfelser Land region in advance of the games photographed the Partenkirchen Ski Club’s clubhouse, where a sign reading “No Jews Allowed Here!” was posted on the wall. The image circled the globe.

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A boycott movement had already been formed in the United States. Organizing committee chief Karl Ritter von Halt was worried that the entire German Olympic project could fail. “If the slightest disturbance occurs in Garmisch-Partenkirchen — this is something which we are all well aware of — it will be not be possible to hold the Olympic Games in Berlin, because all other nations will then withdraw from the event.”

When IOC president Henri de Baillet-Latourwas traveling to Garmisch to see the Games, he was astonished to see roadsigns en route declaring )Dogs and Jews not allowed).

Olympische Winterspiele.- Eröffnung

Baillet-Latour requested an audience with Der Führer and demanded that the signs be taken down. Hitler replied that he thought it usual, when a guest entered a person’s home, that the guest followed the wishes of the host. Baillet-Latour responded that when the flag of Olympia flies over the area, he became the host and Hitler was only the invited guest. Hitler acquiesced and had the signs removed.

But the Games were still highly political, though not  as much as the  Berlin Summer games few months later.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/08/03/1936-summer-olympics-berlin-sports-or-politics/

At the opening ceremony, OCOG President ,Karl Ritter von Halt, stated”We Germans want to show the world that, faithful to the order of our Führer and federal Chancellor , we can put on an Olympic Games that will be a true festival of peace and sincere understanding among peoples”. Perhaps, but the German team included only one Jewish athlete.,Rudi Ball, who was a member of the German ice hockey team.

rudi-ball

In 1936, because he was Jewish, Ball (the 25-year-old captain) was initially overlooked for selection in the German ice hockey team. His good friend and teammate, Gustav Jaenecke, refused to play unless Ball was included. Ball also believed a deal could be struck to save his family in Germany if he returned to play in the games.The German selectors also realized that without Ball and Jaenecke the team would not stand a chance of winning. Another factor was that the Nazi party could not overlook the fact that Ball was without doubt one of the leading athletes in his sport. With much controversy Ball was included in the German team to play at the 1936 Olympic games. One report of the time proposed that Ball was playing against his will.The deal for Ball’s family to leave Germany was also agreed. After Ball was injured, the Germans took 5th place in the Olympic tournament. Ball played four matches and scored two goals.

The 1936 Olympic Winter Games were notable for the introduction of Alpine skiing events.

image-51314-galleryv9-quwu-51314Great Britain upset 1932 gold medalists Canada in ice hockey when Edgar Brenchley scored the winning goal within the last ninety seconds.

team_gb_1936

 

garmisch1936-svg

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