Knesset members commemorated the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht at a ceremony at the parliament on Tuesday together with Christian leaders from Germany from the March of Life organization.
The head of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, MK Sharren Haskel (New Hope), and caucus members Merav Ben-Ari (Yesh Atid) and Ruth Wasserman Lande (Blue and White) participated in the ceremony marking the 1938 “Night of the Broken Glass,” in which more than 1,000 German and Austrian synagogues were attacked, tens of Jews were killed, hundreds were beaten, Jewish-owned businesses were looted, and 30,000 Jews were jailed, many of whom were subsequently sent to concentration camps.
At the Knesset ceremony marking the anniversary, the founder of the March of Life organization, Jobst Bittner, acknowledged his feeling of personal responsibility for the horrific attack.
“Many Germans were responsible for this planned pogrom, and many more were simply standing by, indifferent, silent,” he said. “These Germans were our fathers and mothers, our grandfathers and grandmothers.”
Since 2007, the March of Life organization has united Jews and Holocaust survivors with descendants of Nazi perpetrators for memorial and reconciliation marches to combat antisemitism and to support Israel. To date, marches have taken place in 25 countries and more than 400 cities in partnership with Christians and Jews from around the world, as well as MKs.
This year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, March of Life events took place in more than 100 locations throughout 24 nations, reaching millions through online broadcasts of the live events.
“Eighty-three years later, antisemitism is rampant not only on social media; synagogues worldwide are frequently victims of vandalism, and Jews are not safe on the street,” Bittner said. “In addition to all of this, Israel faces the attempts of delegitimization by the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement and threats of annihilation by its enemies.
“On this solemn anniversary, we want to assure the Jewish people and the State of Israel that we will not stand by silently like our parents and grandparents did in the 1930s, but we will continue to lift our voices publicly with marches for Israel and for the Jewish people.”
HASKEL AND Ben-Ari spoke about their family connections to the Holocaust and their experiences at March of Life events in Germany together with hundreds of German Christians who joined public marches to demonstrate their support for Israel and the Jewish people.
“Unfortunately, the attacks perpetrated 83 years ago are still taking place to this very day, with synagogues threatened and individual Jews afraid to expose their identities in Europe,” Haskel said. “The important difference is that now we have organizations like March of Life on our side, working to strengthen the global voice against antisemitism and bolster international support for Israel.”
Ben-Ari said her grandfather had escaped almost certain death only because those who were about to shoot him began to retreat after hearing about a nearby German defeat in Libya. She said Bittner is the son of one of those officers stationed in Libya.
“Because his father lost a battle, my grandfather survived,” she said. “Today, we unite to commemorate the lives lost due to antisemitism and pledge together to defend the rights of the Jewish people to live freely, especially in their homeland.”
KCAC director Josh Reinstein, who coordinates 50 Israel Allies Caucuses in governments worldwide, said: “Confronting the atrocities of the past together with today’s Christian allies is the best way to ensure that we can be confident when we say ‘Never again.’”
Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy addressed the Knesset plenum to mark Kristallnacht and called on nations to fight antisemitism and to remember the memory of the Holocaust and the sanctity of Holocaust victims.
“Kristallnacht was not another pogrom in the violent chain of pogroms against the Jewish people but a warning sign for an entire Jewish community that a catastrophe was imminent,” he said. “It was a catastrophe on a scale that humanity has never seen before. It had been inconceivable that windows of synagogues would be shattered and Torah scrolls burned.”
The flaming antisemitic hatred that ignited synagogues in 1938 has not disappeared from the world, Levy said.
“It shows its ugly face on social media, sprays swastikas on gravestones and drives the murder of Jewish worshipers on Shabbat,” he said. “This as we saw in Pittsburgh three years ago. I call on nations to unite in the war against antisemitism, remember the memory of the Holocaust and the sanctity of Holocaust victims. It is our national and historical responsibility to tell the horrible stories of those who are no longer with us. We must do everything to ensure future generations know ‘Never again.’”