Kristallnacht: 85 Years Ago. Will It Return?

 

The “night of broken glass” could return amid this anti-Semitism surge. Thursday’s headline from the Times of Israel tells the tragic story of the hatred raging through the world, and how it is affecting plans to commemorate this somber anniversary: “With antisemitism surging, Diaspora synagogues are ‘afraid’ to mark Kristallnacht.”

A brief history of Kristallnacht is found at American Thinker:

November 9th marks the eighty-fifth anniversity of Kristallnacht, the infamous “night of broken glass.”

The pretext for this part-pogrom, part state-sponsored riot was the assassination of German embassy official Ernst vom Rath in Paris. Throughout Germany and Austria, primarily in heavily Jewish areas, synagogues were destroyed, businesses gutted, and for the first time, Jews were arrested by the thousands and sent to the existing concentration camps like Dachau.

Looking back, the mortal danger to the Jews of Germany was obvious. The Jews of Germany and Austria were concerned, of course, but many were comforted by the idea that Jews had survived calamities before and discrimination even leading to violence, was often a feature of the world they lived in. They just need to lie low, and the threat would pass.

When Hitler came to power many still did not take him seriously. One Jewish commentator in Chicago echoed what was commonly believed: Speculating that while the situation for Jews in Germany was dire, it was unlikely that Hitler would remain in power past one year.

The Nazis had made it clear that Jews were to be ostracized. The Nuremberg Laws had begun to be enforced, amounting to the isolation and exclusion of Jews from society. Physicians, professors, teachers, and civil servants all faced restrictions that often prevented them even interacting with Gentiles.

Large numbers of Jews who were able left the country. But others waited. It was Kristallnacht that left no doubt; Jewish life in Germany was at an end.

According to the article which followed the headline quoted above, commemorations known as “Light from the Synagogue” remembering this surreal night 85 years ago are being canceled in many locations around the world:

“When we first started to plan how to adapt this beautiful project to Brazil, we were aiming for an interreligious effort,” said Hana Nusbaum, a Holocaust educator based in Sao Paulo.

“However, due to the rise of antisemitism worldwide, we don’t think the synagogues and other Jewish institutions would be comfortable with a physical demonstration of support that highlights their locations,” Nusbaum told The Times of Israel.

Kristallnacht commemoration organizers in Los Angeles and New York City told The Times of Israel about “bolstered” security for synagogue gatherings set for Thursday evening. However, unlike Brazil, there were no reports that Kristallnacht gatherings were canceled in the US so far.

Marking this year’s wartime commemoration, the iconic March of the Living program released testimonies of Holocaust survivors who reflected on antisemitism following the Hamas massacres of October 7.

“I never thought in my life that something as terrible as now would happen again,” said Tirza, who survived Kristallnacht and later moved to Israel.

A brief sampling of the stories related in this article leaves one with a frightening and chilling sensation that it is only a matter of time before we have Kristallnacht 2023:

“I think twice before I wear my Star of David,” said Manya. “It is a catastrophe what is happening today: not only Hamas but the antisemitism in the universities. Before, I went outside with a Magen David on my shirt, now I think twice about it,” said Manya.

In Los Angeles, a Jewish man was attacked in public by a Palestinian activist and died several hours later. One California-based survivor interviewed by MOTL said “sleepless nights” became part of their lives again since October 7.

“The October 7 terror attack brought back so many memories of what I saw as a child,” said Maud, a survivor who lives in California.

“When it all happened on October 7, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve had sleepless nights since and it just brought back so many memories. I don’t know how to cope,” said Maud.

A Jewish man falls to the ground after allegedly being struck with a megaphone by an anti-Israel protester in Los Angeles on November 5, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

Some survivors said the Hamas massacres shattered a relative sense of inner balance they toiled to achieve for decades.

“I am devastated to see how Jews are being attacked today. Jews are not safe,” said Nate, a survivor who lives in Canada.

“I am very troubled by this and am struggling to retain my equilibrium,” said Nate, who was attacked on the street for being a Jew while growing up.

“My optimism is shattered. We must collectively feel the pain felt by parents whose child is abducted and threatened with death. Hamas’s barbarism is equal and almost exceeds what I experienced during the Shoah,” said Nate, most of whose family were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Hamas’s barbarism is equal and almost exceeds what I experienced during the Shoah

“It started with words and continued with actions. I am devastated to see how Jews are being attacked today. Jews are not safe. I saw where antisemitism can lead to and I am very concerned,” said Nate.

To my mind, not that of a Jew but of one who has struggled a lifetime to understand the sheer savagery of what the Nazis did, those words of Nate, an actual survivor of the Holocaust, bear repeating:

Hamas’s barbarism is equal and almost exceeds what I experienced during the Shoah

Can it happen here? It is hard to imagine how uninformed a mind would have to have been in the last three years, and especially since October 7, to be naive enough (or stupid enough) to believe it cannot and will not happen here. I pray for the safety and well-being of the many who will be in attendance tonight at gatherings at Synagogues around the world.

A Prayer for Israel

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  1. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    The man was killed in Thousand Oaks, not Los Angeles.  Even more troubling. 

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Brawls erupt outside LA Museum of Tolerance screening of Hamas atrocities footage

    Fistfights broke out Wednesday night outside a Holocaust museum in Los Angeles that was screening footage of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis after pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated against what they said was a “Gal Gadot military propaganda video.”

    I can’t find words for this.

    • #2
  3. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Will it return?  No and yes.   I do not see a night of coordinated and widespread attacks on Jewish businesses and Temples happening.  However, I do think the Marxists and Communists have been activated and once activated they will continue to slowly ramp up violence and destruction.  The Dems and Media and the legal system is urging them on, so we will see more and more trouble in cities and on campuses.  The target will be things that are “white” or Western or Christian or Jewish. 

    • #3
  4. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    Will it return? No and yes. I do not see a night of coordinated and widespread attacks on Jewish businesses and Temples happening. However, I do think the Marxists and Communists have been activated and once activated they will continue to slowly ramp up violence and destruction. The Dems and Media and the legal system is urging them on, so we will see more and more trouble in cities and on campuses. The target will be things that are “white” or Western or Christian or Jewish.

    And sadly, even if he wanted to, FJB is way too feeble to possibly pull off a final John Gill.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Ever since October 7 I’ve been thinking about the synagogue in Augsburg, Germany.  In mid-September I had visited the synagogue, the first time I had ever set foot in a synagogue anywhere in the world, and I think the first for my wife and my sister, as well. 

    It was a Friday afternoon, and when we poked our head into the attached museum, we were told we could have one hour.  It was quite a bit earlier than one hour until sundown, but maybe they want the employees to be able to get home by then. We said we’d take it. Then we were ushered through a metal detector and our bags were sent on a conveyor through what might have been an X-ray machine, after which we had to put them in lockers. 

    There were no other visitors around and nobody acted as though our appearance there was the most wonderful thing that could have happened that afternoon, but I could understand the wariness.  I could say I was a bit surprised by all this, but I hadn’t known what to expect so almost anything would have been a surprise.  And the only language we could speak was English, which didn’t make for easy communication. 

    We didn’t tell anyone we had spent the morning in St. Anne’s church, where Martin Luther had had his famous meeting with Cardinal Cajetan.  (Luther’s virulent anti-Semitic rantings later in his life are something we Lutherans try not to think about too much.) 

    The woman who took our money for the admission fee then gave me a skullcap (kippah?) which did surprise me for a second.  I knew that some Jewish men wear those in public, but didn’t know that non-Jewish men were ever supposed to wear them, or that they were to be worn in the sanctuary (though I should have expected that much).  It looked a little big for my head, but before I was able to react she pointed to the baseball cap I was wearing and said I could wear that.  I soon wished I had taken the skullcap, because whenever I enter a church I automatically reach for the brim to take off my cap or hat, and it was hard to get used to keeping it on in a sacred space. 

    We toured the museum for a while, and then entered the sanctuary, which was every bit as amazing as @hartmannvonaue had once told about here on Ricochet.  From the street one would never expect to encounter something like that inside.  In the museum I had seen old photos showing the front rank of a big pipe organ in front, like one might see in a big Lutheran church.  It’s not there now, but at one end of the balcony there were headphones and old recordings of liturgical choral music accompanied by organ, made back when that organ and choir existed.  I sat and listened while looking all around the sanctuary, wishing I could listen to every last one of them, but then realized that time was running out, so I put the headphones away and headed downstairs, on the way meeting the woman from the front desk who had come to close up and shoo the visitors out. (By that time there were a couple visitors in the sanctuary besides me. My wife and sister had already gone back to the museum by the time I found those headphones.)

    On the way out, next to the door I saw the only sign in Russian I saw during our month in Europe, thanking people for visiting.  The current congregation is made up mostly of people who came from Eastern European countries that were once part of the Soviet empire.  (A week earlier, in Donegal City, Ireland, I had heard the only Russian I heard spoken on on our four-week trip, by a young woman talking to her phone as she walked down the street.  I had kind of hoped to hear Ukrainian spoken somewhere, and maybe try a few words of greeting.  There was information in Ireland about the presence of Ukrainian refugees and we stayed a few nights near a hotel that was housing Ukrainian refugees, only, but this young woman was speaking Russian.  We also spent time in France and Slovenia, but there was no apparent presence of Ukrainian refugees anywhere outside of Ireland where we we visited .)

    There was time for a little more tourism after leaving the synagogue, and then we watched a big climate street demonstration with police escort outside a restaurant where we were waiting to met with Hartmann von Aue for a Bavarian dinner, where we had a great couple of hours of conversation together.

    One of my first thoughts on October 7 was concern for that synagogue and congregation, even before I started reading about all of the pro-Hamas demonstrations in Europe and the U.S.

    • #5
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    @TheReticulator: Israel Freunde Augsburg was part of the observance at the Synagogue here last night. I was listening to teaching from the Gebetshaus which was about Israel’s ongoing role in salvation history.  To my knowledge there were no Kristallnacht observances cancelled in Germany yesterday. Chancellor Scholz attended the observance at the Berlin synagogue with Josef Schuster, President of the National Council of Jews in Germany.

    In Berlin, the German government of 2023 decided to say in no uncertain terms that it is not the German government of 1933:

    Ein Davidstern und der Schriftzug „Nie wieder ist jetzt“ leuchten auf dem Brandenburger Tor

    • #6
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