Anti-Semitism and Holocaust

In Commemoration of "Kristallnacht" - November 9-10, 1938

The Nazi "Kristallnacht", Night of Broken Glass, began 63 years ago today. On this night of terror, which prefigured the Holocaust to come, the Germans brutally orchestrated widespread attacks against Jews, torching Jewish-owned property, demolishing Jewish homes, and burning synagogues to the ground. No complete tally exists of the destruction, but at least 30,000 Jews were arrested (8,000 in Austria) and sent to concentration camps at Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Dachau. Scores of Jews were killed and dozens severely injured.—Source: Encyclopedia Judaica

Sue Saniel Elkind
From Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust, ed. Marguerite Striar, published by Northwestern Univ. Press, 1998

broken by streamers/of light from trucks
Trembling mothers
hide children/beg them "be still"
others try escape
All the time
marching feet/slam against cement
stopping only as marchers
hurl rocks/leaving shards of bone
Ramrods/ Violate houses     people
lie splintered/amid slivers of glass
Their screams become one
Old and young/herded outside
prodded to run
"Jew, jew" following them
Bullets fired/shatter windows of dreams
that will become eternal/nightmares.

From O the Chimneys, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1967


O the night of the weeping children!
O the night of the children branded for death!
Sleep may not enter here.
Terrible nursemaids/ Have usurped the place of mothers,
Have tautened their tendons with the false death,
Sow it on to the walls and into the beams—
Everywhere it is hatched in the nests of horror.
Instead of mother's milk, panic suckles those little ones.

Yesterday Mother still drew
Sleep toward them like a white moon,
There was the doll with cheeks derouged by kisses
In one arm,
The stuffed pet, already
Brought to life by love,
In the other—
Now blows the wind of dying,
Blows the shifts over the hair/ That no one will comb again.



And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.—Job, 19:26

O the chimneys
On the ingeniously devised habitations of death
When Israel's body drifted as smoke
Through the air—
Was welcomed by a star, a chimney sweep,
A star that turned black
Or was it a ray of sun?

O the chimneys!
Freedomway for Jeremiah and Job's dust—Who devised you and laid stone upon stone
The road for refugees of smoke?

O the habitations of death,
Invitingly appointed/ For the host who used to be a guest—
O you fingers/Laying the threshold
Like a knife between life and death—

O you chimneys,/ O you fingers
And Israel's body as smoke through the air!

Paul Celan
Translated by John Felstiner; Forward, September 15, 2000

On the one, the
thread, on that
you spin—by that
spun round into
Freeness, out
into Boundness.

The spindles stand
into untilled land, the trees: from
underneath a
light is braided into the airy
matting where you set your table for the empty
chairs and their
Sabbath radiance in -- --
in honor.



Emil L. Fackenheim

Professor Emil Fackenheim, a member of CIJR's International Board, was born in Germany. One of today's pre-eminent Jewish theologians, he is professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of Toronto. After making aliyah to Israel in 1983, he taught at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

    What he loved about fire was not the Promethean aspect, but its destructive force.         …fire itself, literally and directly, stirred a profound excitement in him. I recall his
    ordering showings in the Chancellery of the films of burning London, of the sea of         flames over Warsaw, of exploding convoys, and the rapture with which he watched     those films. I never saw him so worked up as toward the end of the war, when in a     kind of delirium he pictured for himself and for us the destruction of New York in a     hurricane of fire. He described the skyscrapers being turned into gigantic burning         torches, collapsing upon one another, the glow of the exploding city illuminating the     dark sky."1

   Thus wrote Albert Speer. He was the only one who at Nuremberg admitted guilt, was hated for that by his Nazi cronies, all on trial, but was loved by Americans naïve enough to make his book a bestseller, loving him even more because, supposedly, he stopped Hitler from making Germany into a desert, uninhabitable since "the best had already died." But, then came the Marshall Plan and with it a democratic Germany, and hence no fear of another Hitler. Someone in Newsweek thinks now we should have a Marshall Plan for the Arab world as well (I haven't checked Time Magazine).

   As for Speer, he claimed that, what with all he had to do-- first, obeying Hitler as chief organizer of his war effort, then disobeying him when he sought to destroy Germany--he did not notice "special trains" to Auschwitz. But anyone reading his book sceptically realizes that he never overcame his fascination with Hitler until the Fuehrer was dead.

   On account of the turmoil of "black" September 11 nobody mentions Hitler, to say nothing of the "Law of Return"; yet Hitler is still relevant, and this law is the only thing Israelis have done--nay, that that Jews world-wide could have done--in response to the Holocaust: at "Auschwitz" they killed not only Jews but also did their best to kill the Jewish faith: only because Jews returned not only to Jewish statehood, but also to "Jerusalem"--albeit, alas, far from a messianic return--did Judaism survive.

   What Hitler wanted to do, "fanatical" Muslim "extremists" have done and--like Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler--they escaped justice through suicide. In contrast, however, the New York- and Washington- "fanatical" Muslim "extremists" killed not only themselves, but also thousands of innocent others when, in contrast, Hitler's cronies killed only themselves. But this does not mean they were less evil, for had they had the power, they would surely have done what Mohammed Atta and the like-minded others did: indeed, if one wants to know what "Radical Evil" is, one must study the Holocaust.

   To quote the London Daily Telegraph:

    Yet Mr. [Tony] Blair is demanding that Israel resume talks with Mr Arafat as if the     suicide bombings, which some 75 per cent of Palestinians support, had never                 happened. Why should Israel trust a man who has probably had more Jews killed in     the past 50 years than anyone since Hitler?2

1. Albert Speer: Spandau: Secret Diaries, translated by Richard and Clara Winston. London: Collins, 1976, p. 87.
2. Daniel Johnson: To court Arafat is to succour the enemy of our ally Israel. In The Daily Telegraph, issue 45.535, Tuesday 16 Oct. 2001

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