The 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” that erupted across Nazi Germany and Austria during November 9-10, 1938 will be commemorated across the Western world and in Israel. Among a multitude of remembrances ecumenical prayer gatherings were held as well as concerts of liturgical Jewish music, testimonials by Holocaust survivors, and candles lit in memoriam.
Kristallnacht was Nazi retribution for the assassination an anti-Nazi German diplomat Ernest Vom Rath in the Paris by a young Polish Jew, Herschel Grynzspan on November 7th, 1938. That event was seized upon by Herr Hitler and his Nazi SA and SS thugs to unleash a torrent of ‘spontaneous’ violence. That violence was graphically set against the lurid flames of more than 1,000 synagogues torched, several hundred of them destroyed, thousands of Jewish businesses and homes broken into, destroyed and vandalized. 91 Jewish men were killed, thousands beaten and more than 30,000 dragged off to concentration camps. Many of the latter would never to return to their frightened families as they vanished into the dense darkness of the Holocaust. Kristallnacht was the prelude to Hitler’s Final Solution that saw the barbaric murder of six million European Jewish men, women and children.
Read this Arutz Sheva, Israel National News commentary by Larry Domnitch, “Kristallnacht: When the Jews were stranded, “to learn of the tragic indifference to the plight of Austrian, Czech and German Jews stranded after Hitler's annexation of both Austria in the March Anschluss and the calumny of inaction at the Evian Conference in France followed by cession of Sudetenland at the appeasing Munich Conference in September 1938. The only sanctuary was the Kindertransports of 10,000 German, Austrian and Czech Jewish children to Britain. One Irony pointed out by Domnitch in his historical review was Roosevelt wringing his hands while his cousin, then head of the US Immigration Service the opinion that an equivalent effort to save Jewish children would result in more ugly adults. Then there was pressure brought by Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the infamous Undersecretary of State Breckenridge Long arm twisting Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo’s offer of a safe haven for 100,000 European Jews. Then following the gobbling up of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, we saw in May 1939, the plight of 908 German Jewish refugees about the MS St. Louis in “the voyage of the damned” that sailed from Hamburg to Cuba, only to have 28 provided sanctuary in Havana, The rest of the German Jewish passengers slow steamed up the Florida coast past the lights of Miami denied sanctuary by Roosevelt, Hill and Long. A quarter of the passengers aboard the St. Louis passenger upon return to Hamburg would perish in the Shoah. Less than six months later Nazi Germany would invade Poland triggering WWII and the Holocaust under Hitler would begin in deadly earnest.
59 years ago, I shared a triple in a men's dormitory at Boston University to two fellow Jewish freshmen, Matt Goldfarb from Portland, Maine and Jon Zimmern from Newburyport, Massachusetts. On moving in day, Matt and I met Jon's parents, German Jews by origin who were fortunate to have escaped after Kristallnacht. Jon's father came from a family of Bavarian Jewish cattle dealers and was captain of his town's soccer squad until the infamous Nuremberg Laws were passed. When Kristallnacht occurred Jon's father was incarcerated in a concentration camp. It was only through the bribery and perseverance of his beautiful mother that she was able to secure his father's release and through sponsorship of relatives gained passage so that Jon was born in the US in 1939. Jon after graduation from BU became a USAF officer perhaps in his own to prevent what had happened to his parents and many Jews in Germany and Austria who did not survive the looming Shoah.
Now Europe's Jews are faced with a flood of Muslim asylees and migrants adding to the risible physical threats of Islamic anti-Semitism seeking to kill their Jews, as we see daily in knifing, car ramming and shootings of Jewish Israelis by Palestinian and some Israeli Arabs. Only the Jewish nation of Israel combats this internal threat and maintains an open door for Jewish aliyah. As the French expression goes, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."“The more it changes, the more it's the same thing.”