November 9, 1938
The face of Big Ben's clock glowed like a full moon behind a veil of
London fog. The chimes of the great bell tower rang out eight o'clock
and were answered by the lonely bellow of a foghorn.
Below the crenelated spires of Parliament, the black waters of the
Thames slid toward the sea. It was Thursday night, and most of the
theatres and concert halls in London were dark and empty. The panic
that had swept through the city with rumors of impending war had
been replaced with tranquility. Nearly everyone believed Prime Minister
Chamberlain. Peace was at hand. The Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia
had purchased "peace in our time." The citizens of London had
put away their gas masks and filled in the trenches that had crisscrossed
Hyde Park. Flags and bunting were hung from public buildings
and streetlamps in anticipation of the celebrations planned for
the twentieth anniversary of the Armistice. It had been twenty years
since the end of the war to end all wars. This year England had plenty
to celebrate. The lions of war had been tossed a small bone and placated
Tonight, London was safe. Safe beneath her fog.
* * *
The black bowl of the sky above Galilee was dusted with ten thousand
bright stars. An arch of gold and silver glittered in the Milky Way, the
constellations almost lost against such a backdrop.
Sharon Zalmon knew the constellations by name. She had learned
them all in an astronomy class at the university in Warsaw two years before.
The sky above Poland was not quite like the sky above Galilee,
however. The lights of the city of Warsaw obscured the glory which the
shepherd David had written about in the days when Israel had been a
Tonight, on duty in the tiny Jewish settlement of Hanita, Sharon
only glanced at the stars. There was no time for contemplating their
glory, no time for writing new psalms. On this night there was no nation
of Israel. There was only a memory of what had been, the hope of what
could be once again.
Little could she know that on this night, as in the times of David, enemies
hid in the dark ravines of Galilee. They crept toward the outpost
where Sharon stood guard with an old shotgun. Their single purpose
was to destroy the memory of what Israel had been and to make certain
that the nation would never exist again on the soil of Zion. Kill the People
of the Covenant! Kill the dream! Destroy forever the promise God made to the
shepherd King, and to His people!
At the cry of jihad, holy war, enemies came from Jordan and Syria
and Egypt and Iraq. They banded together, united by hatred, beneath
the banner of the prophet Mohammed and Allah. Their shouts in the
city of Jerusalem grew silent; now they moved through the darkness of
Galilee beneath the peaceful stars. They slipped toward the tiny mound
of sandbags where Sharon Zalmon kept watch, planning to inflict the
dreamless peace of death upon her and all the Jews of Hanita.
It was early yet. Sharon scanned the black rolling hills beyond the
perimeter of the settlement. Shifting the aged shotgun in her hands, she
rested the heavy barrel on top of the sandbags.
Three minutes before, Lazlo had left her here and gone to patrol
the barbed barricade between this position and the next. The Arab
gangs had cut through the wire before and had killed settlers. For this
reason, the settlement posted stationary guards like Sharon and moving
patrols like Lazlo, who would make his rounds and return in a few
Something terrible was coming to the Jews of the Yishuv; after the Jerusalem
riots, everyone believed it, even the British High Command.
They had sent Captain Samuel Orde to help the Jews of Hanita. Sharon
had heard of this Englishman who was known as Hayedid, "the friend."
Scheduled to arrive tonight, he would no doubt be out here to make the
rounds of the patrol. This thought made the night seem not quite so
dark, the unseen enemy not so terrifying. Hayedid, the friend, would
Sharon looked up briefly at the constellation of Orion as it moved
toward her from the horizon. She could just make out the stars where
the ancients said his sword hung from his belt. The stars remain unchanged
since that time. Our dreams remain the same, she thought.
In that moment she heard the sound of a stone as it slithered down
an embankment twenty paces from the barricade beyond her post!
The sound jerked her back to the present earth, back to this small
patch of ground that the dreamers had purchased and cultivated and
made to blossom from desolation. They must now defend it as well.
They must not look up at the stars and dream, or all their dreams would
"Who is it?" she demanded. Her heart pounded as she tried to fix the
exact location of the falling stone. Was it there, behind the outline of a
boulder? or to the left, where the ground dropped steeply away? Or
maybe it was behind her. Perhaps it was only the footstep of Lazlo as he
made his rounds.
She lifted the heavy barrel of the shotgun and pointed it out toward
the boulder. If someone was there, he would not escape the blast of a
shotgun. Lazlo had showed her. She did not have to take careful aim.
The small pellets of this old British hunting gun would down a Holy
Struggler like a pheasant rising from a bush. Still, the sound of movement
left Sharon frightened. What might be beyond the reach of the
shotgun's range? Her mouth went dry; she licked her lips and listened.
What had she heard?
"Is someone out there?" she asked again. Her voice sounded small
and vulnerable in the night. She wished Lazlo would hurry. She thought
of calling an alarm, but what if it was nothing?
The silhouette of the land stretched out like an unmoving sea beneath
the rolling star scape. Surely, Sharon thought, she would see
movement if the stone had shifted outside the barbed-wire fence!
Why did Lazlo not return? Was it not time for him to call out the
password and leap into the circle of sandbags?
At that instant another stone clattered down a few feet from her. She
opened her mouth to call out the alarm just as a hand clamped down
hard on her mouth.
Sharon Zalmon had no chance to scream.
Searing hot pain filled her. She felt terror and then a rush of warmth
as she was pushed down onto the dirt floor of the outpost. She blinked
twice in amazement at the brightness of the stars above Galilee and the
realization that she was seeing them for the last time. Then the dreams
died. Just that quickly, it was finished. The darkness of the land overwhelmed
the brightness of the skies above Galilee, and the peace of
death came once again for a child of the Covenant.
* * *
The German Führer promised weapons for the revolt of the Mufti's army
against the Jews and the British. He made good on that promise.
On a dark field in Jordan, Haj Amin Husseini walked through the
stacks of heavy crates containing rifles and ammunition from Germany.
He felt the satisfaction of a man with great power behind him.
As Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin had also kept a promise to
Hitler. He had issued the call for jihad, a holy war against the Jews and
English infidels. Riots even now rolled across Palestine. These thousands
of weapons would assure victory and an Islamic kingdom for Haj Amin.
For a time, to be sure, Haj Amin was forced to flee from the English
law, which even now pursued him for inciting the riots in Jerusalem. But
Haj Amin had no doubts about the ultimate outcome. He had Adolf Hitler
behind him-an ally almost as powerful as the prophet Mohammed
and the Koran! Both Hitler and the prophet proclaimed the destruction
of the Jews. The Islamic religion provided passion to the people, while
Hitler supplied crates of weapons and Nazi commandos to help accomplish
The three motors of the silver German airplane sputtered to life. Haj
Amin extended his hand to each of his faithful commanders and the
fair-skinned Germans among them. They would carry on while he was
in exile. He had communications in place which assured that orders
from Berlin and Baghdad would be followed with the same devotion as
if he remained in Jerusalem.
"Allah is great." Ram Kadar bowed low before Haj Amin. "It will be a
short time before you will return to us as king in Jerusalem."
These words made Haj Amin smile. "It has been two thousand years
since any king has ruled over Jerusalem alone. I have seen the prophet in
a dream, Kadar; the promise is given to me! Soon, indeed, I will sit on the
throne, and you will sit at my right hand."
Others kissed his hand as he passed through the ranks. All vowed to
finish what they had begun. There would be no more Zionist settlers. A
new Arab kingdom would take the orchards and the fields the Jews had
cultivated and distribute the bounty among the true believers. Thus it
was written, and thus it would be accomplished.
The final words of the Mufti were almost drowned out by the hum of
the engines. As he boarded the plane to flee from British justice, the
Jihad Moquades repeated his words over and over to one another.
"This is only the beginning! The prophet has promised us victory in
the Mother of All Battles against Jews and infidels! Only the start! The
world and Paradise belong to those who believe this!"
The plane had barely lifted off the crudely constructed airfield before
the Holy Strugglers cheered and cracked open the crates of new rifles and
bullets-enough to kill every Englishman and Jew three times over. The
Mother of All Battles against Jews had begun, even as it began throughout
the Reich of the German Führer, Adolf Hitler.
* * *
It was early evening in Berlin. The headquarters of the Gestapo on
Albrechstrasse was lit up; each department prepared for the monumental
task ahead tonight.
Teletypes clacked an urgent directive to every police headquarters
across the Reich. What had begun in Munich and spread to Berlin must
now be enacted in every city, large or small, with even one Jew as a resident.
It was a night unlike any other in the history of Germany-perhaps
in the history of the world.
Lists of Jewish names and businesses, compiled over long and arduous
months of work, were reproduced and transmitted to the appropriate
authorities. Within an hour, the roads of Hitler's Third Reich were
packed with truckloads of eager Storm Troopers dressed in civilian
clothing and studying the names of Jews in the neighboring towns
where they were assigned to duty. No man was allowed to participate
in the demonstration in his own neighborhood, lest he come across a
Jewish neighbor and take pity. Instead, the targeted victims would all
be strangers to the troops. Thus the Jews became impersonal, generic
vermin of the sort the Führer raved about in his speeches. "Every Jew an
enemy-man, woman, child-no better than bacilli, whose purpose is to infect
the pure Aryan race!"
Destinations were predetermined. Targets had been marked long before
Herschel Grynspan ever contemplated the assassination of Ernst
vom Rath in Paris. The orders came directly from the top, inviolate and
explicit in their instruction.
To: All State Police Headquarters and Branch Offices:
All Secret Service Commands in the main and subdivisions .
Subject: Measures to be taken against Jews tonight
Urgent! Immediate delivery!
As a result of the death of Embassy Secretary Ernst vom Rath in Paris,
anti-Jewish demonstrations are to be expected throughout the Reich
tonight. The following instructions will be observed:
1. Demonstrations against the Jews and their synagogues will take
place shortly. Measures will be taken to protect German lives and
property (e.g., synagogues may be set on fire as long as there is no
danger of spreading flames to neighboring buildings).
A. Jewish shops and homes may be destroyed but not looted.
B. The officers assigned this duty will proceed to arrest as many Jews
in all districts as the available jail space will hold. Primarily well-to-do
Jews will be chosen.
The German attention to detail had been honed to its sharpest cutting
edge for just such a night. Those who had conceived the idea and
brought the plan to reality smiled pleasantly at one another as they
raised their wineglasses in congratulations.
Tonight was a night unlike any other in the history of Germany, after
all. What nation had ever brought such discipline and organization to
the goals of violence, destruction, and chaos?
* * *
A thick file filled with memos, letters, and photographs of the traitors lay
open on the coffee table in front of Adolf Hitler. Others in the room, sitting
across from the Führer, cocked their heads in an attempt to read the
upside-down writing beneath the Gestapo insignia.
Hitler relaxed in his favorite overstuffed chair. He held up the photograph
showing Thomas von Kleistmann crucified on a cross of ordinary
planks taken from the scaffolding construction site on Albrechtstrasse.
He leaned forward briefly and picked out the picture of Ernst vom Rath,
dead on a hospital bed in Paris.
"Traitors, both of them," he commented.
In the background, a recording replayed the voices of Ernst vom
Rath's father and another man who sounded near to tears.
"Herr vom Rath, every Jew in Germany deplores the murder of your
The Führer raised a finger to stop the recording. "And who is this
"A neighbor of the vom Rath family. A Jew. He is the cantor of the
neighborhood synagogue. Come to beg for pardon, I suppose."
"Play it over again," Hitler ordered calmly.
"Herr vom Rath, every Jew in Germany deplores the murder of your
dear son by one of our own."
"It was not a Jew who killed Ernst." The elder vom Rath's voice cracked
with grief. "Ernst was no Nazi, and it was the Nazis who have had him assassinated.
I know who killed him. It was Hitler and his vipers."
Hitler's expression remained placid, unchanged, as he listened.
Those in the room with him eyed their leader with alarm, expecting rage
at such words from the mouth of Ernst vom Rath's father.
The recording continued uninterrupted. "But my friend," said the
Jewish cantor, "it was not the Nazis, but a foolish young Jewish boy. We
grieve with you-"
"No, Reverend," protested vom Rath. "I know what you think, but
the Nazis are behind it. Ernst was too outspoken. Last time I saw him he
seem troubled . as though he knew."
Once again Hitler raised his finger as though the recording bored
him. It was stopped, and he shuffled through the thick folder again, laying
photographs of the two dead men side by side.
"Both traitors," he muttered.