Friday, 08 November 2013 17:08

75th anniversary of Kristallnacht

Written by Intermountain Jewish News
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Genocide has cascaded down post-WW II history, deepening the blackness of the post-Nazi era: genocide in Biafra in the late 1960s; in Cambodia in the 1970s; in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s; in Rwanda in 1994; in Darfur in the 2000s; and today — for all we are able to ascertain — in North Korea.


AP

 

Seventy-five years after the Nazis shattered the glass in hundreds of synagogues across Germany, Austria and Sudetenland, arrested some 30,000 Jews and sent the unmistakable message that Jewish life in Germany had come to an end, we wish we could say that anti-Semitism ended in the interim.

 

While we do need to work harder than a quarter of a century ago to promote Holocaust remembrance, the truth is that the Holocaust is the most written about episode in history. Tens of thousands of books on the Holocaust and of video testimonies by survivors of the Holocaust are available in libraries and memorials and on computer screens. While we can never take Holocaust remembrance for granted, a special anniversary is not necessary to make the point. We need not recount the unfolding of the Nazi hatred in ghettos, mass killing pits, gas chambers, “medical” experiments and other forms of unspeakable brutality.

 

However, the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht does call attention to: Now. Today. Current threats. Not, thank G-d, on the scale of Nazism; but neo-Nazi political parties flourish in Greece and Hungary. Anti-Semitism is stoked in parts of the Islamic world. Anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Israelism far outstrips legitimate opposition to Israeli policies. Anti-Semitic websites flourish. Holocaust deniers pop up regularly. Especially in France, anti- Semitism is brutal and persistent. The old hatreds and untruths about Jews have resurfaced.

 

Vigilance, even 75 years after the horrors of the Holocaust, is required.

 

Not to mention, if the Jewish obsession with Holocaust remembrance has successfully sent the message to the world, “Never Again,”  the message, alas, has been received only with respect to Jews. Genocide has cascaded down post-WW II history, deepening the blackness of the post-Nazi era: genocide in Biafra in the late 1960s; in Cambodia in the 1970s; in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s; in Rwanda in 1994; in Darfur in the 2000s; and today — for all we are able to ascertain — in North Korea.

 

The power of Yad Vashem, of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and of Holocaust memorials in Berlin and many other cities around the world notwithstanding, Holocaust remembrance has not yet gathered enough power to enforce “Never Again” against other, non-Jewish peoples.

 

On a far less global scale, the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht is an opportunity to remember its survivors who contributed mightily to our Colorado Jewish community. Their personalities, their testimony, their presence are deeply missed. We might mention the late Jack Goldman, though, in fact, each survivor of Kristallnacht and of the Holocaust has added a shine, a cultural diversity, a beautiful tonality to our community.

 

When all is said and done, it was individual Jews whom the Nazis targeted; it was individual survivors of Kristallnacht whom we knew, helped, appreciated and learned from.

 

We salute the significant work of the Yizkor Project. Its remembrance of Kristallnacht will be this Sunday, and will include a screening of the documentary, “The Night of Broken Glass”; memories offered of Kristallnacht by survivors; and excerpts from the 1012 Reader’s Theater. The event is at noon at EDOS. The importance of the event is widely recognized in our community, as it is co-sponsored by Allied Jewish Senior Housing, Colorado Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, EDOS, Holocaust Awareness Institute, JEWISHcolorado, and JFS at JCC Senior Connections.

 

We must continue to bring the information to the next generation, to keep this chapter of Jewish history alive — and to tell the world that vigilance against genocide  is not just a Jewish imperative. Every people, every nation, is a potential victim. “Never again” — against anyone.

 

Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News