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Rachel Kanner

Rachel Kanner describes her family's experience during Kristallnacht.

Rachel Kanner, nee Blum, was born in 1917 in Pleschen, Germany. Her father, Dr. Samuel Blum was a rabbi.  Her mother, Elfreda Breslauer stayed at home to look after Rachel and her 4 siblings: Hugo, Herman Eliyahu, Michael, and Pnina. 

In 1933, her mother arranged for Rachel and her sister, Pnina, to be sent to Holland to live with their aunt. Elfreda organized this in response to propaganda that Hitler would boycott Jewish stores. Rachel stayed in Holland with her aunt from 1933-1936 until her mother took her back home to Germany.  

Upon her return to Germany, she witnessed the persecution of Polish Jews and Kristallnacht. That night, her mother sent her little sister, Pnina, to an orphanage. Only nine years old, Pnina had to run through the woods in the middle of the night. During Kristallnacht, Rachel, her sister, her brother and her mother were rounded up and forced to walk for 45 minutes to a school. Rachel and her mother were released shortly after, but the men had to stay overnight.  Once they returned they made plans to leave Germany.  Her eldest brother, Herman Eliyahu, was already in England at that time. He arranged a permit for Rachel to go to England as a domestic servant.  

In January of 1939, her family liquidated their home and left Germany. Her mother and father left for Palestine with the two youngest siblings. Rachel arrived in England on March, 3rd, 1939. She lived in England for the rest of the war and heard from people and the newspapers the terrible things that were happening to the Jews of Europe. 

In July 1945 she was granted a legal certificate to go to Israel. She worked in Tel Aviv as a hairdresser in an army camp and met her husband. They lived in Israel together until they immigrated to Canada in 1952.  

Rachel Kanner

We got to a school and they said, “stand with your face to the wall.” There was one Jewish woman with us, and she thought they will shoot all of us now. After a while, they said, “go.” And they took us to this other school, even further than where we left. It must have been a forty minute walk or so, and it was still early. It was still dark when we got to that other school and there were Jews there. Somebody was crying because he had been shot, and the Jewish doctor was not allowed to tend him.