Kristallnacht inter-faith in the city

November 12, 2010 Agencies
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Martin Place, in the heart of Sydney, set the stage for a unique inter-faith Kristallnach commemoration…the following report from Catholic Communications – Sydney Archdiocese.

Eddie Bronson, Fay Sussman and Sr Giovanni

Sister Giovanni Farquer, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-faith Religious Relations joined Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence from the Great Synagogue, well-known singer, Israeli-born Fay Sussman, multi instrumentalist Eddie Bronson and senior students from Randwick’s Emmanuel School to commemorate Krystallnacht in Martin Place last week.

“Krystallnacht, the paroxysm of violence that subsumed Germany on the night of 9 November, 1938, is considered by many to have been the first sign of the unfolding Holocaust,” Rabbi Lawrence told those who had gathered to remember one of the darkest events in Jewish history and to pay tribute to their courage and determination at the special lunchtime ceremony on Friday 5 November.

“It is true (Krystallnacht) occurred well before the Nazi policy of systematic mass murder of Jews – the ‘Final Solution’ – coalesced, but in retrospect, this expression of mass violence contained many of the elements that would develop into the Holocaust,” he said.

On that evening, 72 years ago the Night of Broken Glass (the English translation), 91 Jews were killed, 30,000 more were sent to Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camps, with 5000 Jewish-owned shops looted and 191 synagogues attacked and destroyed.

During that terrible night bonfires were also created to burn prayer books, Torah scrolls and volumes of Jewish history, philosophy and poetry.

During the commemoration service the teenage pupils from Emmanuel School read extracts from Anne Frank’s Diary as well as writings from other young girls from this time.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence blows the shofer

The Emanuel School Choir

“I was ripped out of my sleep by a sound of smashing crockery and glass. A chair hurtled into the wardrobe mirror, glass flying everywhere. Now fear became a living thing,” wrote Hannele Zurndorfer in an extract read by Emanuel School student, Miriam Greenbaum.

“The oldest synagogue in Berlin was in flames. The entire sidewalk across from the synagogue was a carnival to the onlookers applauding and laughing…flames lighting up the sky…All I wanted was just to get out, get out…” wrote 17 year old Susan Neulaender Faulker in an extract from her recollections of Kristallnacht, which was read by 17-year-old Australian student at Emmanuel, Aliza Waxman.

The words the young women spoke as part of the ceremony revealed the terror and feelings of utter helplessness in the face of the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews.

But the ceremony commemorating Krystallnacht also spoke of the importance of people speaking out against brutality, persecution and racism so that events such as the horror of Krystallnacht and the obscenity of the Holocaust, when more than 6 million lost their lives, will never happen again.

Organised by the Council for Christians and Jews, the ceremony in Martin Place to pay tribute to those who lost their lives or their homes, their places of worship, their businesses and their livelihoods during the Krystallnacht was attended by those of the Jewish faith along with people of other religions.

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