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This video clip is from an interview with Julius Weil, a former member of the Cardiff Reform Synagogue for the "Hineni" project in 2012. He recalls his bar mitzvah in Köln [Cologne], Germany, which was held three weeks before Kristallnacht and the destruction of his synagogue.


My bar mitzvah preparation took place when I was twelve and at thirteen, I did have my bar mitzvah in the synagogue called the Glockengasse in Cologne [Köln in German]. The synagogue, which was an old one, it was probably I would say at that time in 1938 it would have probably been a hundred years old. But on Kristallnacht of course it was burnt and destroyed together with lots of other synagogues and this was just over two weeks after my bar mitzvah. And therefore mine was the last to take place in this particular synagogue.

Julius Weil – short biography.

This biography is based on the Oral history interview, recorded on 21/11/2018 by Jewish History Association of South Wales/Cymdeithas Hanes Iddewig De Cymru (JHASW/CHIDC).

Julius Weil was born in Dortmund, Germany on 11 October 1925. He lived in Köln with his parents and younger brother Arnold until 1938; on 9-10 November that year, his school was destroyed in Kristallnacht. Julius’s headmaster successfully arranged to get the whole school transferred to London. Julius was on the first Kindertransport train to leave the country. He never saw his parents or brother again. Julius and his school colleagues were initially sent to Cricklewood, London. With the outbreak of war, Julius was sent to Bedford, where he was billeted with a non-Jewish family. After leaving school at the age of 15, Julius went to work for the Ministry of Supply in its catering division, first in Bedford then in Egham, Surrey. He left the Ministry at the end of the war and worked in a factory in Staines, Surrey. In 1956, Julius joined the Standard Box and Carton company, in Pentrebach, near Merthyr Tydfil. He spent the rest of his working life with the company, eventually becoming a director.

Julius initially attended Orthodox synagogues in Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff, but moved to the Reform Synagogue in 1968, at the time of his first marriage.

Julius Weil died in February 2021.

About Kristallnacht.

Kristallnacht, literally, ‘Night of Crystal’, is often referred to as the ‘Night of Broken Glass’. The name refers to violent anti-Jewish pogroms, which took place on 9-10 November 1938 across Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. The violent mobs destroyed hundreds of synagogues and burned and desecrated Jewish religious artifacts. Around 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes, and schools were plundered, and 91 Jews were murdered. During the pogrom, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested in sent to concentration camps.


People’s Collection Wales, Julius Weil interview, 'Hineni' project, 2012 (2015) [accessed 21 January 2022]

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Bibliographies: Kristallnacht [accessed 19 January 2022]

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia: Kristallnacht (2019) [accessed 19 January 2021]

Depository: St Fagans National Museum of History.

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