Lest We Forget: The Eve of Kristallnacht
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, people around the world take a moment to remember the horrors of an all-too-recent history in the hopes that it will never again be repeated. Many say that history repeats itself, and that those who do not learn its lessons are doomed to repeat them. The macabre horrors the Jews and others endured in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and the ovens of Buchenwald make such clichés a terrifying concept.
It came when people were convinced they had already fought the war to end all wars, when appeasing “aggressive” politicians was better than confronting them, and when Germany was highly regarded in the community of nations.
It came after “peace in our time.”
The horrors of a Western nation militarizing and ultimately industrializing seething hatred for an entire race of people climaxed in one of the most perverted imaginations of mass homicide imaginable. Our minds find it impossible to grasp the breadth and depth and mechanisms of its horror.
We don’t like to think about it.
But we have to think about it.
It came with warning, not without. A peaceful nation did not berserkly, suddenly destroy 6 million souls. It began with the poisonous vitriol of anti-Semitism. It seeped into the speeches, the public offices, the newspapers, the culture, the people.
From a March 10, 1920, Nazi document written well before the party came to power:
Do a Proper Job on the Jews!” Don’t just “eliminate” the Jewish spirit from the “cultural” field, or the economy, but sweep away “Jewish vermin” with an iron broom. The Ostjuden (Polish Jews) must be “got rid of without delay,” and ruthless measures must be taken immediately against all other Jews, including “immediate removal of Jews from all government employment, newspaper offices, theaters, cinemas, etc.; in short, the Jew must be deprived of all possibilities to continue to make his disastrous influence felt. In order that the unemployed Semites cannot secretly undermine us and agitate against us, they should be placed in collecting camps ….”
1933, from the president of the Reich to Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler:
Dear Mr. Chancellor! Recently a whole series of cases has been reported to me in which judges, lawyers and officials of the judiciary who are disabled war veterans and whose record in office is flawless, have been forcibly sent on leave, and are later to be dismissed for the sole reason that they are of Jewish descent.
From the Schwarze Korps, in 1935, two years after Dachau Concentration Camp was established:
We have to ideologically coordinate ourselves so that all of us think alike of our enemies and fundamentally exclude them, without making any personal selfish or compassionate exceptions. In order to preserve our people, we must be harsh in the face of our enemy, even at the cost of hurting an individual …. If, for example, out of false compassion, every German should make an exception for “only one decent” Jew or Freemason whom he knows, we would end up with 60 million such exceptions. We have to work on our character and accomplishments.
The same year, the Nuremburg Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor was established: “Marriages between Jews and subjects of the state of German or related blood are forbidden. … Jews are forbidden to fly the Reich or national flag or to display the Reich colors.”
“[N]o danger that is motivated by deliberate evil can ever be conquered through the mere recognition of its harmful nature or motivating power, but only through the deliberate confrontation with another power,” the Nazis warned. “In the whole of Russia there may today remain no more than 600,000 persons among its 150 million who are not horrified by the Jewish dictatorship of blood and its satanic infamy. Nevertheless, millions of helpless people suffer under the 600,000 destroyers, because the conviction of the latter expresses itself in bloody terror, but among the millions it is no more than impotent wishing—perhaps despite their better knowledge.”
The Nazis sometimes claimed their declarations as prophetic. This one certainly was.
From a 1939 memorandum by Joseph Goebbels regarding the solution to the “Jewish question”:
… I am personally convinced that we cannot allow Jewry, as a seat of infection, to exist any longer. Of course, a more inhumane solution could be demanded in time of war: But it is certain that there can be no more discussion in Germany of the necessity of removing Jewry as a seat of infection.
It was systematic removal of Jews from public office, medical and law practices, even teaching. It was concentration camps for those for whom it was “proven impossible to leave these people in liberty as they continue to incite and cause disorder.” It was armbands and yellow stars. It was Jewish schoolchildren disappearing from class, being barred from going to the movies, having their bicycles and going to the playground outlawed. It was German mothers being forced to accuse their husbands of being rapists and race defilers in an attempt to retain their children. It was board games like Juden Raus! (Jews Out!) and ghettos where “another category of Jews, something one would have never thought possible … laboring Jews” were confined and eventually burned.
And that was the beginning. Less than 70 years later, the Trumpet remembers the lessons of history. For more on this subject, read Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.