Kristallnacht November 12, 2010
I was at a meeting the other day discussing this weekend’s events at the congregation with a group of congregants. One of them looked at me and asked, “Are you doing anything for Kristallnact?” I said no explaining that it just was not on my radar screen this year. In other words there just was not time and other things more important were on my mind.
I thought about it and fairly quickly realized that it was not a thought that would go away until I addressed it. So I want to thank my friend bill who inspired the idea and served as my moral compass on this matter.
Yes, today commemorates the Night of Broken Glass where on this day in 1938, the Nazis had instigated and planned a series of nationally organized riots that led to the desecration of synagogues and Jewish stores as well as mass arrests of German Jews who sent to places like Dachau concentration camp. The night of broken glass served as a trigger that unleashed the beginning of the end for Germany’s Jews and served as the harbinger for the forthcoming storm that would spell doom for rest of Europe’s Jewish population.
What the world witnessed in Germany is now called state sponsored terrorism against the state’s own population today. We observe countries around the world like Iran and Rwanda, Serbia (in the 90’s) and many other countries perpetrate these kinds of outrageous crimes. What makes Kristallnacht still relevant today is that this episode in Jewish history teaches us a lesson about how countries betray their own citizens. Kristallnacht has its own meaning to us as Jews. We have documented the stories and we have meticulously researched all that Hitler, Goebbels and their henchmen did to stir up the Germans and plan that horrid action. Let no one doubt whether or not a Kristallnacht could happen again. Of course it could and has happened against us and other nations. That is why Kristallnacht deserves to be cited as an example in our day to be vigilant condemning any political leadership of a nation that uses the states’ power to attack its own citizens.
How ironic that we pay respects to America’s men and women who serve in our nation’s defense with the holiday of Veterans Day. We honor those who protect us and defend us here and abroad. They deserve our respect. Yet when we see how a nation’s political leadership can turn against one group of people based upon religion or race or political viewpoint we know that we must speak out where we see the abuse of power. May God protect our people who volunteer to serve this great nation and return them safely to their families.
Finally Let us not forget the Night of Broken Glass, Kristallnacht, for what it represented as the turning point in Hitler and Germany’s war against the Jews. With the privilege of remembering comes the responsibility of not letting it happen to us or others again.