Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
The First 9/11 - Broken Glass & Ashes
(In Australia 9/11 is November 9th)
Remember Kristallnacht - 9/11/38
Two sites of many
November 9th is still a pertinent anniversary: "Kristallnacht - the Night of Broken Glass".
In 1938, incensed by hearing of his family in Germany being forced into "relocation camps" in the November snow under Nazi laws, an adolescent Jew in Paris shot and killed a German diplomat.
Goebbels used this for propaganda about conspiracies against Germany, inciting Germans to "rise in bloody vengeance", culminating on the long winter night of November 9th in organised widespread violence. Non-Jews who protested were beaten. Police and firemen watched people brutalized, buildings smashed, looted and burnt.
Morning footpaths were impassable under an icy glittering crust of broken glass and ashes.
Lack of public protest encouraged the Nazi government to pass even more repressive laws in the next few months. Prominent Germans who protested were arrested. Ordinary Germans who protested were beaten up.
Can we hope that we've learnt from last century's several examples of disasters wrought by stirring up - for power, for gain, for dogmatic religion or ideology - the darker side we all have?
what disturbed the German populace was less the sight of synagogues burning (fires take place all the time, after all -- it depends on the scale) than of the savage and wasteful vandalism that confronted bystanders everywhere, disrupting the clean and orderly streets (to say nothing of consumer convenience). What was indeed memorable was the sheer quantity of broken glass. A third point was the economic outcome of this massive breakage. Germany didn't produce enough plate glass to repair the damages (synagogues did not have to be replaced -- quite the contrary). The result was twofold: the need to import glass from Belgium (for sorely needed cash) and the outrage of indemnifying the Jewish community to pay for the damages.
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