11 April 1933
Report by Alfred Binswanger on his arrest in March 1933
Almost two weeks later, Alfred Binswanger wrote this report in neat Sütterlin script describing the events. His shock is still palpable: “For all the Jews in Germany, including those in Regensburg, the days between 21 March . . . and 1 April this year were a truly horrific time.” March 21 was the day on which the newly elected Reichstag was inaugurated at an elaborate ceremony in Potsdam. The Enabling Act was passed two days later, laying the foundation for the Nazi dictatorship: it stripped parliament of its power and effectively suspended the constitution.
Binswanger describes the repressive actions taken by the SA in the streets and the futile attempts by Regensburg Jews to demonstrate their patriotism by decking their homes with blue and white Bavarian flags and the black, white and red national colors. According to his report, Jewish citizens were arrested every day, with the total reaching 124. Describing his own arrest, Binswanger writes: “At 4 o’clock in the afternoon two members of the SA came into the shop and demanded that I go with them.” When he asked them what he was being charged with, he was told they had orders to arrest “every member of the race.”
Due to his age and poor health, Alfred Binswanger was released the next day. As he writes in his report, he subsequently received “many expressions of sympathy.” He concludes his account with the brief comment: “In Augsburg and Munich there were very few arrests.”
Regensburg, 11 April 1933
For all the Jews in Germany, including those in Regensburg, the days between 21 March (the opening of the Reichstag) and 1 April this year were a truly horrific time.
In a proper show of loyalty, the Jews of Regensburg had decked their homes with blue and white flags and black, white and red colors. But the SA ordered many Jewish building owners to take down the black, white and red flags because Jews were allegedly not Germans and had no right to display the German flag.*
*On our property on Unterer Markt we flew both the blue and white and the black, white and red flags without attracting any trouble; in the warehouse of the [illegible] headquarters we hoisted the black, white and red colors and the swastika flag. The posters saying “Do not buy from Jews, buy from Germans” were not posted at our shop in Maxstrasse or on Unterer Markt.
Jewish citizens were arrested every day—not only those who had made themselves unpopular in some particular way, but also Jews of good reputation. The arrested persons were often held only for a night. In Straubing the Jewish merchant Selz was dragged from his bed early in the morning, taken to Bogen and shot there, his body mutilated. The NSDAP claimed that the crime had been committed by masked communists. In Regensburg the Jewish physician Dr. Hammel apparently caused very bad blood by stating publicly that he had sent his son to school in Paris because his German teachers were inadequate. He also invested his money in French armament stocks. Incidentally, Dr. Hammel has fled abroad with his wife. In the past, the occasional arrest of other Jews in Germany has resulted in the usual atrocity propaganda abroad, which has been terribly damaging to German Jews and led to the boycott of Jewish businesses.
Although this boycott was announced for Saturday, 1 April, here in Regensburg SA guards took up their posts at the entrances to Jewish shops on Wednesday, 29 March, to discourage customers from entering.
On Thursday, 30 March, large numbers of local Jews were arrested. Even I was not spared. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon two members of the SA came into the shop and demanded that I go with them. When I asked what crime I had committed, one of them answered that he had orders to arrest every member of the race. I was allowed to take my car, but other Jews were led through the city on foot, followed by jeering mobs. When I arrived at the prison in Augusten-Strasse, a large number of my co-religionists were already gathered in the yard, even women (respectively female shopkeepers). We were not treated badly and allowed to send for food. Makeshift sleeping quarters were set up in offices and cells. I spent the night on a straw mattress in the interrogation room together with five other men. In the morning, along with several other elderly or sick men, I asked to see a doctor. Dr. Bunz then examined me and put me on the list of people who were to be released first. Out of a total of around 124 prisoners, twenty-four were released on Friday morning, 31 March.**
**Today, 11 April, between ten and fifteen Jewish men are still being held in prison.
My wife picked me up with our car and we were happy to arrive home, where everyone gave us a warm welcome, particularly the staff.
Schorsch Eisenmann was also arrested when he arrived in Regensb[urg] on Friday mor[ning] but he was immediately released.
Due to my arrest, news of which spread quickly because of the publication of all the prisoners’ names in the local Ostwacht, I have received many expressions of sympathy.
In Augsburg and Munich there were very few arrests.