Start of Holocaust remembered: 79th Commemoration of Kristallnacht Print this post

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


It was 79 years ago that the radical oppression of the Jews in Germany and Austria under Nazi rule became overtly violent and the Holocaust began.

Kristallnacht, or “The Night of Broken Glass,” took place Nov. 9-10, 1938. The Nazi government organized anti-Jewish riots throughout Germany and Austria. When the night was over, 91 Jews were murdered and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Also, 5,000 Jewish shops were looted, 191 synagogues attacked, with bonfires made of Torah scrolls, prayer books and volumes of Jewish history, philosophy and poetry.

Rabbi James Rudin speaks during the Kristallnacht commemoration Nov. 12 at St. William Parish in Naples.

The action was a watershed event whose importance in the history of the Shoah or Holocaust, as it is also called, is that it represents the shift from mass arrest and terror to mass murder. From the time of the Kristallnacht onwards, the momentum of the Holocaust gathered force and led to the wholesale persecution and the killing of six million Jews, including one and a half million children.

The Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County held their solemn 15th annual Kristallnacht commemoration on Nov. 5 at St. William Parish in Naples.

About 400 people gathered in unity to vow to continue to spread the word in combating racism, bigotry, neo-Nazism and a culture of intolerance around the world. Each in attendance made a pledge to say: “Never Again!”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane speaks to people following the annual Kristallnacht commemoration on Nov. 12 at St. William Parish in Naples.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane noted that it is crucial that everyone work to keep the evil of the issue of intolerance in the forefront. “We must not forget. We cry out to the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. We pray that the memory of what occurred in the past will remain a memory. We also commit ourselves to be more vigilant against every form of hatred and intolerance that we see around us.”

The commemoration began with a lighting of six candles, representing the six million Jews who died. The candles were lit by Holocaust survivors Marcel Fachler, Eva Sands and Sabine Van Damas, as well as several second-generation survivors.

Guest Speaker, Rabbi James Rudin, spoke about religious intolerance in today’s world and cautioned everyone that action must be taken now to combat anti-Semitism, persecution of Christians in the Middle East, and all forms of hatred and bigotry that are occurring in the United States and around the world today. If we do not, Rabbi Rudin reflected, that 79 years from now another rabbi and bishop will hold a commemoration and judge the current generation saying: “They knew of the injustice. Did they forget?” Quoting St. Pope John Paul II, whom he heard speak in 1994, Rudin concluded by saying “Never forget. Never, never forget!”

The program also included a playing of an April 20, 1945 BBC radio broadcast of inmates at Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp and concluded with everyone singing “God Bless America.” In the parking lot was a World War II boxcar from the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida, for people to tour and learn more about the Holocaust.


The Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County works with the purpose of engaging Catholics and Jews in understanding past history and advancing the cause of mutual understanding and appreciation of differences as well as commonalities. A series of events, including the Kristallnacht commemoration, take place throughout the year at different synagogues and parishes. To learn more, please email or call 239-263-4205.

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