Saturday commemorated 75 years ago that the Nazis started the pogroms throughout Germany and Austria. This night in 1938 witnessed a strategic attack on Jews. Kristallnacht — the Night of Broken Glass — marks the event where Jewish store fronts, homes, and synagogues had their windows knocked out and smashed. Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The world learned on this night that the Holocaust had now started. The Nazis were putting into play their “Final Solution.”
This part of history is exceedingly ugly and painful. We witnessed mortal racism and homophobia as Nazis assigned yellow stars and pink triangles to those they deemed unfit to live — people like Gad Beck. Sadly, we are currently seeing a rise in anti-Semitism in Germany and Russia. We are also seeing a rise in homophobia around the world, including Russia, which is hosting the 2014 Olympics.
Thank goodness for all of the veterans and all those that helped to end World War II. I do believe these veterans are heroes; they fought to ensure that regardless of our differing opinions and beliefs, the one thing that should unite us all is our shared humanity. That bond values those differences and does not try to limit them or take away people’s rights.
Call to action: I charge all people around the world to look for the humanity we all share and to interrupt oppression when we witness it. When we hear anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist slurs, we must interrupt that oppression or we dishonor those who fought to protect and cherish our common humanity and strove to create a level playing field. We also strip ourselves of human dignity when we practice any form of hate against people who are different from us or collude in our silence with the oppression practiced by others.
For young kids, I would recommend reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars.