Kristallnacht – The Night of Broken Glass
YitGadal V’YiKadash Sh’mei Rabbah – May His great Name grow exalted and distinguished. Today, November 9th, 2010 marks the 72nd anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust. Though the camps had not yet begun their final solution, though the occupied populations had not yet begun the complicity in our annihilation, Germany and the German people opened the door for what would later be known as the holocaust.
Numerous books, films and articles have been written about the event, I wish to dwell on the participants of this ghastly act. “Lo Ish Eil – man is not the lord” (Numbers 23:19) yet, every few hundred years a tyrant arises with such charisma, such magnetism that he becomes god-like in the eyes of his followers. Hitler was such a demagogue. Have you ever watched the masses at the speech Hitler delivered at Munich, Germany, February 24, 1941? The charisma that he exuded and the subservience that was returned to him was inviolable. Amalek was at work.
The German people were captivated and mesmerized by his hypnotic show of hate and power. Though not politically correct, it is time to face the reality that the Nazis were not the only perpetrators of crimes against humanity; the German people were also active participants in these actions.
Rabbi Peretz Weizman, a holocaust survivor of the Lodz ghetto and various concentration camps writes in his book, Imrei Fi V’Hegyon Libi: “No questions were asked, no doubts existed, only disciplined faith, blind faith in their leader. The German’s handed over their hearts and minds to the party saying, you think for us and our emotions are yours. We the German people, will follow you and abide by your decisions.”
Kristallnacht was the beginning. Police were dispatched to enforce racist laws, but it was the German population that enthusiastically carried out that night of broken glass. Thousands of synagogues and business’ were destroyed. Even more business’ and homes were trashed which was why that night was called Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass, the streets and sidewalks were literally covered with broken glass. What about the death toll?
Of course, there were good Germans, Germans who risked their lives to save Jews and may their souls be bound in the bond of life. They however were insignificant in number and could not affect the tidal wave that was to follow. Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass was the opening act of a play that brought the Jews and the world to its knees, it must never be forgotten.