Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembering the victims of the other 9/11

When we Americans write out a date, we put the month before the day. Today is November 9, or 11/9. But most every one else shows the day first: 9 November, or 9/11. And today marks the 69th anniversary of the other 9/11--Kristallnacht, or Night of the Shattered Glass.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, there was some hope that all his anti-Semitic rhetoric was just that--rhetoric. The Nazis purged the Jews from the civil service, but they sent the Communists to concentration camps. And few in the West cared about the Communists. Hitler was distasteful, even threatening. But after the night of 9 November, 1938, there was little doubt about Hitler's plans for the Jews. That night, the SA (Sturmabteilung or storm troopers) and the SS (Schutzstaffel--literally "protective squadron') attacked and ranscked about 8000 Jewish businesses, destroyed 1668 synagogues, and arrested 30,000 Jewish men, who were sent to concentration camps. About 90 people died in the attacks, though hundreds more died in the aftermath.

The Times of London, in its November 11 edition, wrote: "no foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."

The term Kristallnacht refers to the shattered glass of the shops--many of which had windows of leaded crystal glass. But it was, in many ways, the beginning of the Holocaust.

So today is a day to remember the victims of the other 9/11, and and to remember that in spite of the Allied victory over the Nazis, we have not yet stopped genocidal attacks.

7 comments:

Lisa said...

Kristallnacht marked the advent of something many would have the world forget. Thank you for helping us to remember.

Charles Gramlich said...

The crash of glass heard around the world. Even if the world did nothing for far too long.

Leigh Russell said...

Arthur Miller's play 'Broken Glass' is an interesting reponse to the heartrending atrocity of Kristallnacht.

steve said...

Lisa, Charles, Leigh-thank you for your comments.

Leigh--Thank you for visiting. I'll have to check out Miller's play. Thank you for mentioning it.

steve said...

Lisa, Charles, Leigh--just another note of appreciation. Of course I'm not surprised that you knew about Kristallnacht. I just wish more people had your awareness and senitivity.

Alexandra S said...

Thank you for this post. Everyone should know about that horrible night that foretold so much horror. Sadly, too many humans aren't real interested in learning from history. I just finished a beautiful book that takes place in Nazi Germany called The Book Thief- it was amazing, totally extraordinary. And thank you so much for your recent kind comments on my blog- that was so nice of you! Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

steve said...

Alexandra--Thanks so much for visiting. I haven't read The Book Thief. Maybe I can find it in audio form at the library. Recently I've been thinking about books I've read by Erich Maria Remarque--"All Quiet on the Western Front," and a novel set in a Nazi death camp, in which the main character is merely, "509." (I can't think of the title). Strangely enough, the second book is more hopeful than the first.