Israel Remembers Kristallnacht, 75 Years Later

On Sunday, Yad Vashem commemorated the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, 'the night of broken glass'.

David Lev ,

Kristallnacht Memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem
Kristallnacht Memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem
Hezki Ezra

On Sunday, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center commemorated the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass,” when Nazis swept through Jewish towns and neighborhoods throughout Germany burning homes and synagogues, destroying shops, and attacking Jews.

Some 500 Jews were killed in the attacks. Over 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned down, and 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged. The term “Kristallnacht” refers to the shards of broken glass from the windows of shops and homes attacked by the Germans and Austrians who participated in the pogroms.

Hundreds of survivors, veterans of World War II battles, IDF soldiers, and high school students gathered at Yad Vashem to hear survivors give their accounts of the devastation and terror of that night. Among the speakers was MK Dov Hanin (Hadash), who is the son of survivors.

“Auschwitz wasn't made in one day,” he said at the commemoration. “There were many signs along the path.” The Kristallnacht pogroms were not “spontaneous,” he said, but were a planned event, designed as a milestone on the road to the destruction of European Jews, he said.

One speaker, Hanita Rudney, told the audience that she had “never spoken about what I witnessed. I was a child with a big secret. I was able to function during the day, but at night I had a hard time.” After that night, she said, “my brother took my hand the next day and took me to school. On the way we saw my father's destroyed store. Everything was broken, and they had written 'Juden' (German for 'Jew') all over. It was heartbreaking,” she said.

Speaking at the weekly government meeting Sunday morning, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that “exactly 75 years after Kristallnacht, we are witness to swastikas and worse being drawn by the Palestinian Authority. This is a direct result of the wild incitement against the State of Israel. This is not the way to achieve peace. Peace will not be achieved by pressuring Israel, and no pressure will persuade us to give up our essential interests, the things that are part of our heritage, and of our future,” he said.