The Vital Lesson of Kristallnacht
November 9, 2013 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of one of the most notorious and nasty crimes of the twentieth century: the "Night of the Broken Glass," when Nazi Germany engaged in an orgy of destruction and violence against those Jews who remained in the Third Reich. Jews were beaten and killed; synagogues were vandalized and burned; Jewish homes and businesses were pillaged and wrecked.
The civilized West was horrified. Although Nazi contempt for Jews was no secret, the period leading up to Kristallnacht had been fairly tame. Anti-Semitic propaganda had almost vanished in 1936, when the Nazis were trying to impress the world with the 1936 Olympic Games. Germany had long been known as an orderly society -- almost a compulsively orderly society. Cold Pogrom, the title of a 1939 book by Max Berges, described the calculated and increasing pressure on a typical German Jewish family which led, eventually, to the death of every family member.
At first, although this seems odd to us today, the Nazis claimed that they were simply trying to drive Jews out of Germany. The threat which the very existence of Jews supposedly posed to National Socialism manifested itself later. Those familiar with the history of the time doubtless recall the "Madagascar Plan," which involved the removal of Jews from Europe to the big French-held island off the coast of southern Africa.
What is less well-known is that the other totalitarian regime, Stalinist Russia, also had its "Madagascar" for in Biro-Bidjan, a remote region of eastern Siberia which was calculated to be one of the first areas attacked if Japan and Russia became involved in a war. Stalin, as he approached his alliance with Hitler, gave orders to "Clean out the synagogue!," meaning to purge Jews from all senior leadership position in the Soviet Union.
Hatred of Jews is always near the black heart of modern totalitarianism. Perversely, Imperialist Japan, which had almost no Jews at all, as Maurice Hindus noted in the 1940s, at the time "embarked on a campaign of anti-Semitism which in the virulence of its language is comparable to that of Nazi Germany. All the more extraordinary is this campaign because the Japanese know hardly anything about Jews."
Imperial Japan also loathed Christians, as Baker noted in Darkness of the Sun: "The prejudice [of Japanese] brought out a virtual reign of terror where Christians were concerned[.] ... Schools were controlled directly by the Ministry of Education and its prefectural suborganizations and it was their definite policy to remove all Christian influences from them[.] ... Fathers disinherit their children who are converted to Christianity."
Hatred of Jews and Christians united those vile men who committed the Rape of Nanking, the Holomodor (systematic extermination of millions of Ukrainians by Stalin), and the Holocaust. Nazi hatred of Christianity has tended to be overlooked -- I cover it extensively in Swastika Against the Cross -- and as but one example in documentaries about The Night of the Long Knives, Hitler's blood purge, it is seldom noted that most of the lay Catholic leadership in Germany were murdered that same night. Soviet hatred of Jews has been concealed by those who were too willing to accept Jewish support for Bolshevism despite the fact that Stalin clearly planned a "Second Holocaust" in the early 1950s.
The vital lesson of Kristallnacht and the interconnected horrors of the last century is that Christians and Jews are canaries in the mineshaft of human behavior. This is very scary history for us today. The persecution of Christians today occurs around the world, and not just by Muslims or even secularists (Hindus, for example, persecute Christians in India today). Every day, somewhere, brave Christians are dying for their faith.
The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the brisk sales of hideous defamations like the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are a somber testament to this global sickness. This disease is so prevalent in some parts of Europe that incidents of clear anti-Semitism are simply no longer news anymore.
Which nations are loathed most lustily by the adopted children of Hitler and Stalin today? Two nations alone face hissing from the shadows: America, which has the most devoted Christian population of any major nation in the world, and Israel, the only true homeland for the Jewish people. The voices of hatred come within America from men like Barack Obama, who are bitterly clinging to their atheism and statism. It is not even so much atheism as the Christian and Jewish principle of a Loving God and a Blessed Creator which drives Nazis, Bolsheviks, and their modern siblings to fury.
If the world needed to be reminded of just what this means, it was reminded seventy-five years ago. We ought never to need reminding again.