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Wilhelm Kahle, Marie Kahle’s eldest son (see reading, A Family Responds to Kristallnacht), was a student at the University of Bonn. He was called before the university’s disciplinary court for helping a Jewish storekeeper restore order to her shop after Kristallnacht. His “crimes” are spelled out in this “Disciplinary Judgment.”

The student of musicology Wilhelm Kahle will be punished, because of behavior unworthy of a student in regard to the protest action against Jewish businesses, by dismissal from the university and denial of credit for the semester’s work.

On 10 November 1938, there occurred in Bonn, as a result of the murder of the legation councilor vom Rath, a demonstration against Jews, in which the corset shop owned by the Jewess E. Goldstein was affected. On the late afternoon of 12 November 1938, the accused went with his mother to this shop, in which the latter had earlier made purchases. When they arrived at the shop, around 6 or 6:30 p.m., three Jewish females were leaving it. In the shop they met the owner and another Jewish person named Herz. The shop owner was busy putting boxes back on the shelves. After they had been there for about three minutes, Police Sergeant Peter Stammen entered the shop and wrote down the names of the Jewish persons and then also the name of the student Kahle’s mother, and in doing so had some difficulties with the latter. He then turned to the student Kahle, who was putting the boxes that were on the counter back on the shelves, and asked him whether he was an interior decorator. The student said he was not, and then gave his name.

Contrary to the charge, the Disciplinary Court has not been able to determine that the accused intended from the outset . . . to go to the Jewish shop. It is more of the opinion that no preconceived intention lay behind this visit, but rather that the visit took place only on the occasion of passing by the demolished shop. Further, the Disciplinary Court has not derived from the proceedings the impression that the student helped the Jewess put her merchandise back on the shelves but sees the student’s actions simply as an effort, without any special intention, to help the Jewess in her work or to support her in some way.

Nonetheless, the student’s behavior is thoroughly reprehensible. By finding it justifiable to enter a Jewish shop after the given incidents, he seriously endangered the reputation and dignity of the university and thereby violated his academic duties. Articles II and III of the Disciplinary Code for Students, 1 April 1935. He was to be penalized.

The accused’s behavior requires a vigorous atonement. Since the accused seemed to be a little inept and awkward during the proceedings and was obviously under the influence of his mother, the Disciplinary Court has decided in mitigation merely to dismiss him from the university and deny him the credit for the entire semester’s work.

In imposing this punishment, which is mild in relation to the offense, the Disciplinary Court has acted on the basis of the expectation that the student will pursue his further education at a greater distance from his parents’ home, so that in the future he can mature into a more independent, more self-confident and more responsible person.1

Citations

  • 1 : Uta Gerhardt and Thomas Karlauf, eds., The Night of Broken Glass: Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012), 90–91. Reproduced by permission from Polity Press.

    Un Comportamiento Completamente Reprochable

    Wilhelm Kahle, el hijo mayor de Marie Kahle, estudiaba en la Universidad de Bonn. Fue citado ante el tribunal disciplinario de la universidad por ayudar a una comerciante judía a ordenar artículos en su negocio después de La Noche de los Cristales Rotos. Sus “crímenes” se explican con lujo de detalles en este “juicio disciplinario”.

    El estudiante de musicología, Wilhelm Kahle, será castigado, por el comportamiento indigno de un estudiante con respecto a la acción de protesta contra los negocios judíos, será expulsado de la universidad y se le negará el reconocimiento por el trabajo del semestre. El 10 de noviembre de 1938, en Bonn, como consecuencia del asesinato de vom Rath, secretario de la embajada, se presentó una manifestación contra los judíos en donde se vio afectado el negocio de corsés de la judía E. Goldstein. Hacia el final de la tarde del 12 de noviembre de 1938, el acusado fue con su madre a este negocio, en el cual esta última había hecho compras más temprano. Cuando llegaron al negocio, cerca de las 6 o 6:30 p. m., tres judías iban saliendo. En el negocio se encontraron con la propietaria y otra persona judía llamada Herz.

    La propietaria estaba ocupada volviendo a poner cajas en los estantes. Después de haber estado allí cerca de tres minutos, el sargento de policía Peter Stammen ingresó al negocio y anotó los nombres de las personas judías y luego anotó el nombre de la madre del estudiante Kahle y, al hacerlo, tuvo algunas dificultades con ella. Luego se volvió hacia el estudiante Kahle, quien estaba volviendo a poner en los estantes las cajas que estaban en el mostrador, y le preguntó si era decorador de interiores. El estudiante dijo que no y luego dio su nombre.

    Contrario a los cargos, el Tribunal Disciplinario no ha podido determinar si el acusado tuvo la intención de ir al negocio judío… desde el principio. La mayoría piensa que no hubo intención preconcebida tras esta visita, más bien la visita se dio solo por haber pasado por el negocio demolido. Adicionalmente, el Tribunal Disciplinario no ha derivado de los actos la impresión de que el estudiante le ayudó a la judía a poner la mercancía de nuevo en los estantes, sino que ve las acciones del estudiante simplemente como un esfuerzo, sin especial intención, de ayudar a la judía en su trabajo o de apoyarla de alguna manera.

    No obstante, el comportamiento del estudiante es completamente reprochable. Al encontrar justificable el ingreso a un negocio judío después de los incidentes ocurridos, este puso seriamente en peligro la reputación y dignidad de la universidad y, por tanto, infringió sus deberes académicos. Artículos II y III del Código Disciplinario Estudiantil, 1.º de abril de 1935. Iba a ser sancionado. El comportamiento del acusado exige un desagravio rotundo. Dado que el acusado parecía un poco inepto y torpe durante el procedimiento y obviamente estaba bajo la influencia de su madre, el Tribunal Disciplinario ha decidido, a modo de mitigación, solo expulsarlo de la universidad y negarle el reconocimiento por todo el trabajo del semestre.

    Al imponerle este castigo, que es leve en comparación con la infracción, el Tribunal Disciplinario ha actuado con base en la expectativa de que el estudiante continúe su educación a una distancia mayor del hogar de sus padres, de manera que en el futuro pueda madurar y convertirse en una persona más independiente, segura de sí misma y responsable.1

    Citations

    • 1 : Uta Gerhardt y Thomas Karlauf, eds., The Night of Broken Glass: Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht (Cambridge, Reino Unido: Polity Press, 2012), 90-91. Reproducido con autorización de Polity Press.

    Connection Questions

    1. How does the disciplinary report extend your understanding of the Kahles’ actions, as described in the reading A Family Responds to Kristallnacht
    2. How were Wilhelm Kahle’s actions seen by his university? 
    3. Why might the Nazis have wanted young people to separate from their families?
    4. The disciplinary court’s report concludes with hope that Wilhelm Kahle will become a more “responsible” person. According to the court, what would make Kahle more responsible? What does it mean to you to be a responsible person?

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