Today we remember.
The name Kristallnacht literally means ” Night of the Crystal” and derives from the shards of glass broken that were the remnants of the homes, stores, buildings and synagogues of Jewish people. The dark days of 1938 ( November 9th and 10th) when homes , businesses and synagogues of German Jewry and Austrian Jewry were vandalized , attacked, smashed, looted and burned.
Today marks the 80th anniversary of horrific violence against Jews throughout Germany and Austria. Jews were assaulted, injured and killed. Jewish men were arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen, Dachau and Buchenwald.
91 Jews were murdered. Thousands more were victims of violence and torture.
Over 1,000 synagogues were burned. They burned synagogues and everything within. gold edged Torah Scrolls, leather bound Prayer Books, Bibles and so many other artifacts.
7,000 Jewish businesses and stores were destroyed.
Cemeteries, hospitals, schools and homes were looted and destroyed.
Commercial establishments owned by Jews were not allowed to reopen.
Over 30,000 men were sent to concentration camps.
Nazis and their collaborators unleashed a planned and coordinated attack on Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues across Germany, Austria and Nazi controlled territories. Governments and municipalities unleashed these atrocities.
All assets were confiscated. Bank accounts, jewelry and all possessions of value. Women and men were allowed to keep a wedding ring and a watch.
Afterwards, Jews were charged for the damage done to property by Nazis.
Jews were barred from a majority of publics places including museums, parks, swimming pools and were expelled from public schools.
There were countless suicides committed by Jews who felt lost in desperation.
There is hardly a German Jewish family on the world who has not suffered loss from this atrocity.
The world watched in silence.
It was the horrific escalation from previous verbal and political attacks on Jews to physical violence and murder that marked Kristallnacht.
Elie Wiesel: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness” .
When we light Shabbat candles tonight we welcome in the light and hope of Shabbat. This year and every year we have to remember and never forget.
This is just too important a story not to share with all generations. We must make sure this never happens again.
Never forget. Never forgive. Never again.