Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Night Of Shattered Lives

Remembering, Remembering


Interior of a Synagogue in Berlin: Wikipedia notes: “Interior of Berlin's Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, opened in 1912, after it was set on fire during Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938. It was destroyed entirely during an Allied air raid on Berlin in 1943, and a Jewish Community Center was opened in its place in 1959.”
Photo Credit: Abraham Pisarek [1901–1983]
Source: Wikipedia, originally from Hitler’s War Against the Jews (1975) by Lucy Dawidowicz, p. 61.

There are two holidays this month that remember horrible events: one the horrors of war, on November 11th (Remembrance Day); and the other the horrors of hate of a People (Kristallnacht, literally “Night of Crystal,” often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass”), on November 9th. The former is well-known among many peoples of the world; the latter more so among the particular people subjected to such hatred and violence.

Thus, to broaden the audience is to do justice to a memory. Thus, it is more than appropriate to broadcast last week’s Library of America (LOA) selectionAufenthalt in Rosenheim by Vincent Sheean—it acting as a faithful record of the early thinking and its effects, causes and influences of such hatred and what it often and tragically leads to:
Aufenthalt in Rosenheim
Vincent Sheean (1899–1975)

From Reporting World War II: American Journalism 1938–1944

This month marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Kristallnacht— literally “Night of Crystal,” but more often “Night of Broken Glass.” On November 9–10, 1938, the German Nazi Party carried out a pogrom, during which ninety-one Jews were killed, 26,000 men were sent to concentration camps, and the confiscation of Jewish property was accelerated. Over 250 synagogues were destroyed, many burned to the ground. The name of the tragedy came from the shattered glass from homes and Jewish-owned businesses that littered city streets.
Ostensibly in response to the assassination of a German official in Paris, the attacks were launched by Joseph Goebbels when he announced the news during a speech at a dinner commemorating the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch (Hitler’s first and unsuccessful attempt to seize power in 1923). Party leaders understood Goebbels’s message as a command: “Comrades, we cannot allow this attack by international Jewry to go unchallenged. . . . The Führer has decided that such demonstrations are not to be prepared or organized by the Party; but so far as they originate spontaneously, they are not to be interfered with either.”*
Although Kristallnacht is regarded as the most dramatic turning point yet toward the horrors to come, the carnage was long in the making. One American observer, the journalist Vincent Sheean, was in Europe when France, the United Kingdom, and Italy agreed to the September 29 Munich Pact, ceding to Germany the Sudetenland, the name for the Czechoslovakian borderlands inhabited primarily by German-speaking residents. During the month that followed—but before Kristallnacht—Sheean traveled around by train and car and wrote “Aufenthalt [Delay] in Rosenheim,” describing the dismay he felt as a witness to the increasing persecution of Jewish residents throughout German-occupied territories. 
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*Nuremberg Document 3063-PS (Walter Buch, Nazi Party Supreme Court chief, to Hermann Göring, February 13, 1939).
There is not much more to say that has already been said countless number of times, not only by me in this forum, but by many others more intelligent, more thoughtful and more kinder and generous than me. The only point I would like to add is that we remember because such is the way to give some voice to those who cannot speak, to hope against hope that one day such tragedies will never again darken humanity.

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You can read the rest of the article at [LOA].

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