Don't stand silent: Remembering Kristallnacht, 1938
By Staff Sgt. Tenea Basinger, 21st Dental Squadron
/ Published April 01, 2008
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
In honor of the Peterson Holocaust Remembrance week from April 27 - May 4, the Holocaust committee will show themed movies, have book displays and a table display. A memorial service for those who perished in one of the world's worst human tragedies will be held May 1 in the base chapel.
One of the events to be remembered, which led to the onslaught of persecution against the Jewish people by the Nazi Third Reich, was 'Kristallnacht.'
Before World War II, more than 9 million Jews lived in diverse communities across Europe, many of which had been in existence since the 11th century. When Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933, they began to systematically remove Jews from the cultural and commercial life of Germany. Jewish property and businesses were confiscated, and Jewish children were denied public education services.
On Oct. 27, 1938, a 17-year-old Jewish man named Herschel Grynszpan witnessed his family and more than 15,000 other Jews being expelled from Germany without any warning. In retaliation for the poor treatment his family suffered at the hands of the Nazis, he intended to assassinate the German Ambassador to France. Upon discovering the ambassador was not at the embassy, he shot and killed Third Secretary Ernst von Rath. This assassination provided the excuse needed to launch a program against German Jews.
Thirteen days later, on Nov. 9, 1938, the Nazis unleashed a wave of organized killings against Germany's Jews. Within a few hours, thousands of synagogues, Jewish businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed. Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, synagogues were burned, cemeteries and schools were vandalized and more than 30,000 Jews were arrested. This event came to be called Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass"). This term led to controversy due to the origin, intent and appropriateness on whether or not it was invented by Nazis to mock Jews. It referred to the fact that the shards of glass from the thousands of broken windows "glittered like crystal in the streets."
The dark night of Nov. 9, 1938 is another example of the hate and intolerance that one man can inflict upon another. Hate continues to exist in our community, nation and in the world. This event represents the key in the emergence of Nazi hate and is a turning point in the development of the Holocaust. It illustrates the terrible consequences of indifference and passivity toward the discrimination of others.
For more information on the Peterson Holocaust Committee, call Tech. Sgt. Daniel Stellabotte at 556-1619.
A QUICK LOOK AT HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE WEEK:
Holocaust Remembrance Day is May 1. Through the weeks of April 22-May 2, the Peterson Holocaust Remembrance Committee will have a selection of events available:
- A film review of Holocaust-related films is from 8-10 a.m. April 22 at the Peterson Non-commissioned Officer Academy auditorium, with discussion to follow with Dr. Richter.
- A book display of Holocaust-related reading is available April 27 at the Peterson library.
- A table display of Holocaust-related material is April 28 at the base exchange.
- A memorial service is from 10-11:30 a.m. May 1 at the base chapel.
(For more information on these news briefs, call Tech. Sgt. Dan Stellabotte at 556-1619.)