81 years ago tonight, the semi-comfortable world that European Jews knew came to an end.
Up until Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass, the uptick in antisemitism that German Jews had experienced was mostly non-violent. November 9-10, 1938 changed everything. Jewish synagogues, homes, and schools were destroyed. Around 100 German Jews were killed and 30,000 German Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.
Given the current political and social climate that we live in in 2019, I feel like I have to ask if it can happen here, in the United States?
The scary answer is yes. The shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway in California occurred less than a year apart. In my hometown of New York City, the number of hate crimes against Jewish residents is rising quickly.
I sometimes take for granted that I live in a country that guarantees me the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I also take for granted that I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
I wish I could say that I live in a better world that German and European Jews lived in. But I don’t. Antisemitism is still alive and well. Until such day that antisemitism is dead and buried, a small part of me will be concerned that another Kristallnacht can happen here.
Attacks like the massacre in the Tree Of Life Synagogue nearly two weeks ago do not happen in a vacuum. They start with words, lies and stereotypes that lead to destruction and murder.
80 years ago tonight, Jewish businesses, home and Synagogues in Germany were ransacked and destroyed during what would later be known as Kristallnacht. 30,000 Jewish men were forced into concentration camps and 91 men were killed.
The excuse for Kristallnacht and the shooting in Pittsburgh two weeks ago is the same. It is hatred of the other, of someone who is different, that leads to events like The Holocaust. It feels like nothing has changed. We have learned nothing in 80 years. We allow hate and prejudice to fester until it becomes mass murder. We allow our politicians to twist the facts until they become lies.
A wise person once said the following:
‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it”
I guess history will continue to repeat itself until we learn from it.
Yesterday, November 9th and today, November 10th is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Translated into “Night Of The Broken Glass” Jewish owned businesses, buildings,homes and synagogues were destroyed. Innocent Jewish civilians were murdered or arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps.
Kristallnacht was the beginning of the Holocaust. By the time World War II ended 7 years later, six million Jews were murdered, along with five million others who were deemed as “subhuman” by the Nazis and their supporters.
Unfortunately, this sentiment is not a new one, especially in America today. We have a President who is silently condoning the views and actions of the far right and the hate groups who in the past, have been forced into the shadows of our culture. If he had his way, immigrants, especially immigrants of color would be deported. Transgender troops who put the lives on the line for this country would be forced out of the military. The Press, as we know it to be, would be destroyed except for a few television channels and publications who mindlessly agree with him. It is a figurative Reichstag fire that has the potential to destroy our democracy and everything that we as Americans hold dear.
If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. While Donald Trump is not a mirror of Hitler, there are signs and red flags that cannot be ignored. If we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.
Today is the 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also referred to as The Night Of Broken Glass. On November 9th and 10th, 1938, Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators. It was the beginning of the end for the Jews of Europe.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Tomorrow we remember the veterans who are still among us. While their deceased brethren are a stark reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that members of the armed services make, those who are still living deserve the same respect and attention.