November 9-10, 1938, marked the onset of the Holocaust.
November 10, 2021
On this date, a pogrom against the Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria occurred that ended with over 200 synagogues destroyed. Over 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses were damaged. Over 30,000 Jews were arrested.
And 91 Jews were murdered in Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland.
This night, known as Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass gets its name from the broken glass of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues which littered the streets after being ransacked and set alight.
Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the end for millions of Jews. It became the moment when thousands realised that Nazi Germany was more than a passing trend, and that they needed to flee for their safety and survival. As we know, for many, tragically it was too late.
But out of this broken glass, and the unimaginable horrors that people endured, spirits remained unbroken.
At this year’s communal Kristallnacht Commemoration, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies paid tribute to recently passed Kristallnacht witness and Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku OAM z’l.
“We were honoured to film Eddie Jaku two weeks before his passing, in his final interview,” JBD Shoah Remembrance committee chair Dane Stern said.
“Eddie was almost beaten to death by Nazis on the night of broken glass, and survived numerous concentration camps, yet he still managed to become ‘the happiest man on earth’.”
“Eddie’s remarkable positivity reminds us that even when antisemitism threatens us today, we must not allow it to break us.”
The commemoration, which included the lighting of six memorial candles in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust by members of Eddie’s family, was originally to feature Eddie as the special guest. Instead, the evening was as a tribute to his life, his resilience, and his unbroken spirit.
The ‘happiest man on earth,’ Eddie survived seven years of unthinkable horror – through concentration camps, a Nazi death march and the loss of his friends and family.
But through all this, he made a vow to share his wisdom and his story, keeping the memory of those who did not survive alive. And ensuring the lessons of the past were never forgotten.
“Time and time again history has presented challenges to us, yet our ability to unify and support each other is unmatched. Our collective responsibility to care for each other has never been stronger,” JBD CEO Darren Bark said.
“The world may be a little less bright without Eddie in it, but his story is a hopeful reminder of how happiness can be found even when we’re surrounded by darkness. “
Inspired by Eddie’s words and his story of survival, Gondwana Choirs (Sydney Children’s Choir) composer in residence Sam Weiss recently composed a piece, There are Always Miracles, which was performed virtually by the choir.
Now, more than ever, the community is charged with taking on the important duty of keeping the stories of the Holocaust alive for future generations.
The commemoration can be viewed by visiting www.nswjbd.org/kristallnacht2021
In Israel, President of Israel, Isaac Herzog said: “The night of Kristallnacht heralded the crossing of a fateful line, the signal to relinquish all restraint. In one night, an underlying sentiment of antisemitism became the overt expression of the many. We are all committed to fighting and uprooting every incarnation of antisemitism.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett added: “We will never again entrust our destiny to others. We will always be vigilant and defend ourselves
Perth commemorated the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht at the St George’s Cathedral
The keynote address by Dr Bill Leadbetter was titled: Christians and Kristallnacht: The brave sermon of Helmut Gollwitzer. Highlights included music interludes, together with the performances of the Prendiville Catholic College Alumni and St George’s Anglican Grammar School choirs.
Kaddish was recited by Trevor Creewel of Temple David, and memorial candles were lit.
Members of William Cooper’s family were present – his great-grandson, Lance Turner, Lance’s wife and two daughters.
Indigenous man William Cooper marched from his home in Footscray to the Nazi consulate in Melbourne on 6 December 1938, to protest Kristallnacht. His petition was only officially acknowledged by the German government in 2020!
The Jewish representation included Rabbi David and Aviva Freilich, Holocaust survivor Ken Arkwright and his wife Judith, and Professor Lynne Cohen.
The Federal German Honorary Consul for WA, Dr Gabriele Maluga, and Ester Steingiesser, Hon Vice-Consul of Brazil in WA also attended.