November 9, 2008

Today is November 9.  Throughout recent history, there have been four hugely important events, each on November 9, which shaped Germany and its history. 

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht anti-Semitic pogroms.  Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, is often regarded as the starting point of the Holocaust.  Nazis ransacked Jewish homes and businesses and burned synagogues as police and firefighters looked on.  More than 90 Jewish people were murdered and about 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps on 9 and 10 November 1938.  Millions were killed by the Nazi regime, including about six million Jewish people. 


I cannot imagine anyone who, looking back at this, does not recoil and ask, “How could this happen?  How could people allow this to happen?”  But then, I see some parallels in the way some people in this country are trying to vilify certain groups of people, and even our President-Elect, not because of what he says and does but based on rumors and assumptions – not too different from how Germans were told, some 70 years ago, that Jews were the bad guys and that Germany would be so much better off without them. 

In that context, I would like to offer a quote from Henrik Mandelbaum who survived Auschwitz:

“Ich bitte Euch um alles auf der Welt, lasst Euch von niemandem einreden, wen Ihr zu lieben und wen Ihr zu hassen habt.”

(rough translation: “I implore you, don’t let anyone tell you whom to love and whom to hate.”   ~  I would gratefully accept other/additional translations. )