Kristallnacht also known as Night of Broken Glass was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany on November 9th-10th 1938. Kristallnacht was the day Hitler’s final solution “came out of the closet” It is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the final solution, leading towards the genocide of the Holocaust
In a coordinated attack on Jewish people and their property, 99 Jews were murdered and 25,000 to 30,000 were arrested and placed in concentration camps. 267 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. This was done by the Hitler Youth, Gestapo,and the SS. Kristallnacht also served as a pretext and a means for the wholesale confiscation of firearms from German Jews. Kristallnacht was part of a broader Nazi policy of antisemitism and persecution of the Jews. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic political persecutions and horrible genocide.
Throughout the world we remember Kristallnach, the night the Nazi’s began the Holocaust in earnest. Its amazing how little has changed in almost seven decades. In Arab countries children textbooks are filled with anti Jewish hatred while others call them Moderates. Islamic Clerics throughout the world call for the death of Jews. In Venezuela and Iran leaders are whipping the population into Anti-Semitic fervor.
At my dinner table on Friday night, a holocaust survivor admits that she is trying to persuade her son to take his family out of Europe to America, Canada, Australia, Canada, Australia, Israel…’They say they can’t leave me, but I tell them: “Go, get out. My parents left my grandparents behind in Berlin and brought me to safety in England. Now I want you to leave so that my grandchildren will be safe.”’ There is an unbearable desperation in her plea. But she has a point.
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As tens of thousands of demonstrators march through the streets of Europe, the chants are modified but the message remains substantially intact: ‘Hamas, Hamas, Hamas — Jews to the Gas’. Or, more simply: ‘Death to the Jews’. Many European Jews, even well-established, affluent Jews, have been checking the suitcase they keep packed under the bed. They have been here before and many are (albeit reluctantly) reading the writing on the wall.
To some extent I thought I was inured. I grew up in postwar apartheid South Africa where a subtle undercurrent of anti-Semitism was a fact of everyday life. So while I was disturbed by manifestations of mob anti-Semitism, I was also less vulnerable to shock. That’s just how people are. Living in genteel, leafy Hampstead Garden Suburb provides an additional layer of protection from such crass outbursts.
But my sanguine state ends abruptly when I am out walking on Saturday. A hundred yards from my front door, I encounter the slogan, freshly painted in yellow, across the pavement: ‘Kill the Filthy Jews’. I am shocked. And shocked that I am shocked. The message is too close for comfort. The leafy gentility is, after all, an illusion.
Sadly Davis’ tale is not unique, mainstream politicians in the United States rail against the “Jewish influence on foreign policy” a meme take from Anti-Semitic texts, TV commentators complain about the number of Jews on the Supreme Court. College campus’ have become a safe haven for anti-Semitic professors.
Its sad how very little has changed in 72 years. The world is still a very dangerous place for Jews.