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December 23, 1988 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-23

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Renewed Commit ments, Increased Action


Editor Emeritus


eversal of the U.S. State Depart-
ment policy on negotiating
with the PLO and its demands
for the establishment of a Palestine
state emphasize the Israeli and world
Jewry commitments for absolute securi-
ty for the Jewish state and unlimited
adherence to mobilizations of tasks in
all areas for an unmenaced Jewish
Israel's leadership is confronted
with the most serious call it ever heard
for rejection of divisiveness. We must re-
tain confidence that self-defense for
Jewish statehood will be a demand to
make temptation for party domination
secondary in the commitment to the na-
tion's progress and security.
In that regard, it will surely become
vital for all Israel's leading political
elements to erase from the record the
shameful way in which the Law of
Return was treated as a sham in world

media sensationalism. One non-Jewish
analyst who was commenting on the
much-maligned issue of Who is a Jew
estimated that perhaps a dozen people
might be affected by the extremist
demands. This should be an indication
that the manner in which such issues
are introduced into Israel's political life
must be eliminated. The scandalous
matter must be avoided.
Therefore our confidence that uni-
ty will be restored and Israel's leader-
ship will be prepared for action to over-
come the arising obstacles.
Diaspora Jewry is the other impor-
tant element on the seriously arisen
situation. World Jewry has consistent-
ly supported and worked for the protec-
tion of American, British, Canadian
and French Jewries, and not to be
isolated from a strongly aligned Israel
cooperativeness. Their commitments
are unquestioned. The important
obligation now is an assurance that
leadership speaking for them will be
responsibly chosen.
The "incident" in Sweden was

deplorable. Self-appointed leadership
can never be condoned. On this score
the cause for regret for irresponsibility
of acting in behalf of all of us without
proper endorsement is a warning for
caution in the future. Now one of the
group that went to Sweden to speak
with Arafat, Rita Hauser, is hailed by
media as a "Jewish Leader." Who
selected her for that position? She is an
able woman who is active in one of the
national Jewish groups, and that's the
extent of "leadership." Let us think in
terms of truly representative action.
The Conference of Presidents of Ma-
jor American Jewish Organizations has
been and remains the chief body for ac-
tion in matters affecting Diaspora
Jewry and with concern for Israel. It
works closely and effectively with
similar movements in other world
Jewish communities. This is what
should be aimed at and encouraged. It
is the road to responsibly selected
Deeply involved is the existing
Israel American friendship which must

never be tampered with. The assurance
given by Secretary of State George
Shultz that the U.S.-Israel partnership
will continue is especially heartening
in the new "crisis," if it is to be judged
as a crisis. Therefore the added need to
lend authority to movements like the
Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations to
speak and act for us. Anything different
must be shunned at all times when
responsibility is such a vital factor in-
volved in the most serious situation con-
fronting us.
We in the Diaspora and Israel have
vital commitments to pursue. We are
duty-bound to mobilize for strength,
courage and non-yielding to threats to
our honor, dignity and the soveriegnty
of Israel. The friendship with the
United States must always be treated
as the most urgent obligation on the
agenda of Jewish action. This program
for the security of Israel must be
adopted by every concerned Jew
everywhere. Let us make it a duty for
all of us.

Kristallnacht And The Atoning


ristallnacht atrocities, the
cruelties and beastialities, will
never be erased from memory.
Recollections of them are not in the
form of an anniversary. They are im-
bedded in history's records of the most
atrociously unbelievable occurrences.
Ever reverberating as challenges
are the distressing demands to know
and understand why the silence at the
time of their occurrences in November
of 1938, both among Germans and in
supposedly civilized countries. The few
who protested in Germany also landed
in concentration camps with their
Jewish neighbors.
Among the "Great Powers" there
were only the few who spoke out and
then there was the massive silence.
Some now turn back the pages of
the records of inhumanities and they
beat their breasts with their regrets. In
Germany there are the admissions, the
regrets, the apologies, the belated
How do they really explain the
guilt? Will the horror be as unforget-
tabled in Germany as it is in world
For historic experiences to be kept

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Vol. XCIV No. 17

December 23, 1988


in memory, it is necessary to know how
the generation that follows the
Holocaust is recorded factually. The
views of those who were witnesses to
the horrors must not be ignored.
The Deutsches Algemeines Sonn-
tagsblatt, published in Hamburg, in its
Nov. issue provided the valuably need-
ed data. The article is by Jens Flemm-
ing under the title "Fifty Years Since
the Mobs' Kristallnacht Rampage." An
English translation appears in the Ger-
man Tribune of Nov. 13 also of Ham-
burg. This is an assembling of facts,
published for Germans as a record not
to be forgotten.
It is a 50-years-later reminder of
what had occurred and the horror of it.
Let the following from the English
translation be remembered:
Fifty years ago the Nazi
Press celebrated the Reichskris-
tallnacht as a spontaneous ex-
pression of "popular anger" and
collective retaliation against
German Jews for a crime by a
It was the murder of Ernst
Eduard vom Rath, an official at
the German embassy in Paris,
by Herschel Grunspan, a
desperate young man threaten-
ed with deportation who had
been forced to go underground.
Those domestic and foreign
observers who did not believe
the Nazi - propaganda saw the
Kristallnacht mayhem as
organized vandalism and bar-
barity carried out under orders.
Mobs set fire to synagogues
as the police and fire brigade
stood by not to fight the fires but
to stop them from spreading to
"Aryan" property.

Jewish cemeteries, depart-
ment stores, workshops and

homes were wrecked and
looted, nearly 100 Jews were
killed, dozens driven to suicide
and thousands arrested and
sent to concentration camps.
"The streets were ruled by
mobs;' wrote the Berlin cor-
respondent of the Neute Zurcher
Zeitung on 10 November 1938,
"that marched howling and bawl-
ing from one shop to the next
destroying the entire stock and
what was left after the shop win-
dows and fittings had been broken
and sacked the night before.
"Not one of over 1,000 Jewish
shops in a city of four million peo-
ple has not been transformed into
a heap of ruins.
"In a radio shop you could see
men wielding clubs smashing ex-
pensive radio sets while other
groups wielded pokers, crowbars
and curtain rails."
This orgy of violence let loose
before the eyes of international
public opinion on 10 November
partly continued on the next two
days. It marked the peak, for the
time being, of a trend that had pro-
gressively deprived German Jews of
their civil rights and driven them
into isolation.
It was the final, thunderous
climax of a vulgar, resentment-
laden, rowdy anti-Semitism deeply
rooted in the various units of the
Nazi party.
Such an introductory to a self-
indictment must be registered for all
time to come by Germans to Germans
and also by the guilt of indifference as
an admonition not to submit to tyran-
ny. Therefore the Hamburg newspaper's
account of the Kristallnacht horror
should be viewed as a confessional
when it asserts:

Many ordinary Germans
disapproved of the unbridled
licence enjoyed by the Nazi
thugs and saw no sense in their
wanton destruction of property.
There can be no doubt that anti-
Semitic propaganda failed to
trigger a general wave of sup-
port for the pogrom.
Yet there was no audible pro-
test either. Readiness to help
and gestures of sympathy with
persecuted Jews were the excep-
tion, not the rule.
The majority preferred to ex-
ercise restraint on both their
houses, the victims and the
culprits, and after a brief in-
terlude of shock it was back to
business as usual.
The ordinances issued soon
afterward, including the imposi-
tion of a RM1,000m "atonement"
fine imposed on the Jews, seem-
ed to meet with approval rather
than rejection.
Even the churches, as the
last institutions that were more
or less morally intact, had
nothing to say on the subject.
It was as if "an invisible
power," as Theophil Wurm, the
Protestant bishop of Wurt-
temberg, recalled after the war,
had forced people to keep their
views to themselves.
Yet anti-Jewish prejudice
was far from immaterial, as a
letter Bishop Wurm himself
wrote to the Justice Minister on
6 December 1938 clearly
In it he objected both to the
form the pogrom had taken and
to the inconvenience to which
clergyman accused of being

Continued on Page 40

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