Kristallnacht reminds us of how humanity can be lost
This letter is in response to The News article, “Holocaust survivors remembered on ‘Night of Broken Glass’ ” commemorating Kristallnacht.
Since few of us can identify with either the victims (Jews in Germany) or the perpetrators (Nazis) of these atrocities, I encourage your readers to consider the role played by the many, many bystanders, without whose apathy these and subsequent events would never have unfolded as they did.
Who were the Germans who stayed silent as Jewish colleagues and neighbors were denied their livelihoods, their homes and eventually their lives? In this country, who took the farms and homes of the Japanese-American citizens who were interned as a result of racism, war hysteria and the failure of political leadership?
Paraphrasing historian Gerda Lerner, once you have defined another human being as “other,” i.e. “not like me and mine,” anything is possible. In 1997 she wrote, “All of us must survive in a world in which difference is the norm and no longer serves as an excuse for dominance or we will not survive at all. And in order to survive in this interconnected global village we must learn to respect others who are different from us and, ultimately, to grant to others the autonomy we demand for ourselves.
“In short, celebrate difference and banish hatred.”