Do Not Stand Idly By While Your Neighbor Bleeds~ Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:16
Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany on November 9th-10th, 1938.—it was much more than just a pogrom. Kristallnacht was the day Hitler’s final solution “came out of the closet” with anti-Jewish riots in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.
Kristallnacht is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Jewish 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.
The attacks were carried out by Hitler Youth, the Gestapo, and the SS. Kristallnacht also served as a pretext and a means for the wholesale confiscation of firearms from German Jews and was part of a broader Nazi policy of Antisemitism and persecution of the Jews. Kristallnacht was followed by further anti-Semitic economic, political abuses and horrible genocide.
Kristallnacht owes its name to the shards of shattered glass that lined German streets in the wake of the pogrom—broken glass from the windows of synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses plundered and destroyed during the violence.
The Nazis used the murder of a low-level German diplomat in Paris by a 17-year-old Polish Jew as an excuse to carry out the Kristallnacht attacks. On November 7, 1938, Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who wanted revenge for his parents’ sudden deportation from Germany to Poland, along with tens of thousands of other Polish Jews. Following vom Rath’s death, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered German storm troopers to carry out violent riots disguised as “spontaneous demonstrations” against Jewish citizens. Local police and fire departments were told not to interfere.
The Nazi government made an immediate pronouncement that “the Jews” themselves were to blame for the pogrom and imposed a fine of one billion Reichsmark (some 400 million US dollars at 1938 rates) on the German Jewish community. The Reich government confiscated all insurance payouts to Jews whose businesses and homes were looted or destroyed, leaving the Jewish owners personally responsible for the cost of all repairs.
In the weeks that followed, the German government promulgated dozens of laws and decrees designed to deprive Jews of their property and of their means of livelihood. Many of these laws enforced the “Aryanization” policy—the transfer of Jewish-owned enterprises and property to “Aryan” ownership, usually for a fraction of their true value. Ensuing legislation barred Jews, already ineligible for employment in the public sector, from practicing most professions in the private sector. The legislation made further strides in removing Jews from public life. German education officials expelled Jewish children still attending German schools. German Jews lost their right to hold a driver’s license or own an automobile. Legislation restricted access to public transport. Jews could no longer gain admittance to “German” theaters, movie cinemas, or concert halls.
Throughout the world, we remember Kristallnacht, the night the Nazis began the Holocaust in earnest.
It’s amazing how little has changed in eighty-one years. In Arab countries, children’s textbooks are filled with anti-Jewish hatred while others call them “moderates. “Islamic Clerics throughout the world call for the death of Jews.
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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.
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 above is not unique, even here in the freest most tolerant nation in the world. Some members of The Democratic Party in the United States spewed antisemitic canards and the party leaders didn’t have the nerve to rebuke them, basically telling America’s Jews they were second-class citizens
Louis Farrakhan, the Antisemitic leader of the U.S. Nation of Islam, has been befriended by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Al Sharpton, a man who has spent a good part of his life leading anti-Semitic pogroms or spewing it to incite advises Democrats (and is celebrated by Jewish politicians like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer). Barack Obama the former President of the United States is an anti-Semite. However, no one dared to call him out for is hatred.
Today when Israel is attacked by terror, the rest of the world turns their head away or blames the victim.
Four years ago when France was attacked by Islamist terrorists, the White House and State Department refused to acknowledge that the attack on the Kosher supermarket in Paris a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath when families are shopping for their Sabbath Dinner, had anything to do with Antisemitism.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama reawaken the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel with false accusations against the Jewish State and refusing to acknowledge the Palestinian’s use of human shields and condemning Israel for any civilian casualties. This was despite that his own Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that Israel went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in the recent war in Gaza and that the Pentagon had sent a team to see what lessons could be learned from the operation.”
Jew-haters worked with the ADL to prevent Jews from speaking out against the anti-Semitic President of the United States. Jewish politicians walked blindly behind their party’s Anti-Israel President and damn the Jewish people with their silence just to be able to move up the political ladder will not be able to silence us either.
Jews in Congress such as Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Adam Schiff (D-CA), forgot all about what happened on Nov. 9, 1938 and supported the Obama’s legacy deal that would have allowed Iran to create a nuclear bomb and attack the Jews in Israel and everyone here in America. Thankfully President Trump pulled out of the deal.
Today is the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, the start of the Holocaust.
We owe it to the people who died during the Holocaust to speak out while they remain silent.
May the memory of the Holocaust started 81 years ago today be a reminder of what happens when the world is silent. May there always be people to speak out against the silence.
May the memories of the victims of the Shoah always be for a blessing.