On November 9, we commemorate the 85th anniversary of 'Kristallnacht' (Crystal Night), a 'Pogrom' directed against the entire Jewish people in Nazi Germany, in which thousands of Nazis and other German citizens who were their sympathizers participated, and which was a terrifying announcement of the most terrible evil of the Holocaust that would take the lives of 6 million Jews and millions of other victims of Nazi and fascist regimes across Europe.
Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass, was a violent anti-Jewish pogrom that took place during the night of 9th to 10th of November 1938. A pogrom is an attack accompanied by pillage and murder perpetrated against the Jewish community (most of them happened in the Russian Empire, particularly in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova (Bessarabia)). Kristallnacht owns its name for the shattered glass from the windows that littered the streets during and after the pogrom. This attack took place through the Third Reich was at that time included Austria and an area of Czechoslovakia occupied by German troops.
During this pogrom orchestrated by the Nazi regime, Jewish businesses, homes, synagogues, and even cemeteries were vandalized and destroyed by Nazi paramilitaries. Police did not stop the assault following the Nazi regime's orders. Local firefighters were asked to intervene only to prevent flames from spreading to nearby non-Jewish buildings.
Jews could do nothing in front of that spread of violence against them. Many Jewish properties were confiscated and many young and healthy Jewish men were arrested and filled in local jails.
During the Kristallnacht, 267 synagogues were destroyed or burned and 7,500 Jewish-owned stores and other properties were vandalized by the SS and Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). In addition, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in many regions. Mob organized by the SS also attacked Jews in their homes or in the streets and forced them to public humiliation.
Kristallnacht took the lives of at least 91 Jews. The attack was organized by the SS and Gestapo (the Secret state police). 30,000 Jewish males were arrested and most of them were transferred from local prisons to concentration camps.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, measures were introduced to eliminate Jews and remove “Jewish influence” from the German economic sphere. As an excuse for Kristallnacht, the Nazi government invoke the murder of a Nazi diplomat by a Jewish refugee in France. According to Nazi logic, punishment must be collective for all Jews, so they imposed a fine of one billion Reichsmark (400 million US dollars in 1938 rates) on the German Jewish community. Jewish children who still attend German schools were expelled by German Education officials.
At the same time, the Nazi government announced laws that the Jewish-owned enterprises are being given to “Aryan” ownership. “Aryan” “race” is what Nazis considered superior to all others. In Germany, they (Nazis) propagated this false notion, elevating the German people as members of the “Aryan race”.
The Nazi theory and practice of collective punishment for an entire nation, like a fine of one billion German marks at the time of Kristallnacht, is one more example of how wrong and anti-civilized Nazism was. Collective punishment is not compatible with the basic principle of individual responsibility.
The events of Kristallnacht represented one of the most important turning points in Nazi antisemitic policy and what ends up in the total alienation of Jewish people through it.
It`s mostly important in our times that we teach the lessons so that atrocities may never happen again. While learning about how Holocaust happened and how the Nazi regime arrived in power, we can today prevent the rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.
Commemorate Kristallnacht and the Holocaust in general pay homage to the thousands of victims who lost their lives and to the survivors who have endured unspeakable suffering. It's a way to recognize their dignity and memory.
The Holocaust is a dark chapter in our common History that must be taught to future generations. Holocaust education helps raise awareness of the dangers of hatred, racism, and discrimination. It also promotes tolerance, diversity, and human rights.
Commemoration is also a way to preserve historical truth. Unfortunately, negationism is still alive in our world. Against these attempts at revisionism and negationism, Holocaust commemoration is more important than ever.
However, since the Holocaust is a Historical event, Commemoration is an occasion to remember the importance of international cooperation, justice, and human rights as an international community.
As a part of common memory and in addition to Kristallnacht, the 27th of January is the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust when every country pays homage to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its unwavering engagement to combatting anti-semitism, racism, and others forms of intolerance likely to lead to group-specific violence.
Germany attaches great importance to commemorating Kristallnacht, as a part of commemorating the Holocaust, because of its history and the responsibility it bears as the nation where the atrocities took place.
In Germany, the 17th of June was declared as the National Day of Remembrance in 1953. The different German politicians are participating in different commemorative events such as the ones in Auschwitz. There, several speeches were given by the different chancellors including the ex-chancellor Angela Merkel:
"Remembering the crimes... is a responsibility which never ends. It belongs inseparably to our country," "To be aware of this responsibility is part of our national identity, our self-understanding as an enlightened and free society... a democracy." Angela Merkel also mentioned several times during her commemorative speeches that Germany continued to have "deep shame" for what happened in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The Kristallnacht was a public display of hatred organized thanks to the negative influence of the Nationalist Socialist Party (NSDAP), which was so popular in Germany at this moment, that Nazis were not scared to organize the Holocaust against the entire Jewish nation.
The force of evil released into the public sphere during Kristallnacht resulted in the total alienation of 6 million Jews, millions of Slaves, and many thousands of Roma, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other victims of National Socialism during the Second World War.