Kristallnacht, we will try to live through it…

“Our father took me and my little sister in his arms that night,
and said, ‘this is the beginning of a very difficult time, and we’ll try to live through it’.”

Ruth Winkelmann remembering The Night of Broken Glass


(United States Holocaust Museum)

The greatest gift that all of us can give to our country as patriotic Americans
is to live out our lives as faithful Catholic Americans who have been entrusted
with the fullness of faith and the fullness of divine life and the fullness of power
without which our country will not endure.

Dr. Scott Hahn
from A Father Who Keeps His Promises

I don’t think Dr. Hahn would mind me substituting “faithful Christian American”
in place of “faithful Catholic American—as I think it is a most fitting assertion…
in that, it is a gift that all Believers should be offering—
as in a gift given from ourselves to ourselves and to our fellow countrymen…
those who are Believers as well as to our non-believing kinsmen.

What better example could we the faithful be but that of good and patriotic Americans!
Those who possess humility, kindness, charity, and that of a law-abiding zest for living.
As in, we the people, who have been the entrusted caregivers of this Nation…
a nation founded 244 years ago. We are her stewards.
As that was the legacy and hope of our Founding Fathers.

Yet, in most recent weeks, we have been witness to a life far from that of caring…
a life far from one of stewardship.


(Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House/
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)


(Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG/ Long Beach, California)


(Minnesota protesters topple a statue of Christopher Columbus)

Even our cousins across the great pond have gotten in on the act.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) “was a racist” written on it’s base in Parliament Square, central London after a demonstration outside the US Embassy, on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. – Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, most of the countries which make up our 21st-century Western Civilization
have devolved into a disastrous maelstrom of violence and hate.

Last week when I wrote a post lamenting this current reign of madness, a fellow blogger
commented that we are actually experiencing our own Kristallnacht…
the night of broken glass.

I was dumbfounded.
It was as if I had been struck by lightning.
It was a revelation.
And I was amazed at the eerie similarity.

And so for those of you who are unfamiliar with Kristallnacht or for those who do not
know their history…and particularly since this current cultural civil war seems to be
falling woefully short any sort of knowledge of history or the past…
let me share with you a brief look backward.

When one googles “history repeating itself” a myriad of sites pop up dedicated to the notion
that history does indeed repeat itself…no ifs, ands or buts.

Many scholars and historians both believe that this phenomenon takes place after a
4 generational time frame.
Meaning, it takes four generations to see a re-cycle of time and events.

And according to Wikipedia “a generation is
“all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.”
It can also be described as, “the average period, generally considered to be
about 20–⁠30 years, during which children are born and grow up,
become adults, and begin to have children.”

According to the United States Holocaust Museum,
Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, took place during two nights
in November, the 9th and 10th, of 1938.

1938 is 82 years ago—a division of 4 being 20.5 years

The term ‘night of broken glass’ comes from the fact that the streets of numerous cities
across Germany, those two nights in 1938, were littered with millions of shards of glass coming
from the smashed and shattered windows of storefronts, synagogues, and homes…all properties
of the Jewish population—a result of riots instigated by Nazi Party members
and the Hitler youth.
The Jews were blamed collectively for what was at the time was an apparent
wrongful death.

The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members
of the SA (Sturmabteilungen: commonly known as Storm Troopers) and Hitler Youth.

In its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted
as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination
of Ernst vom Rath.
Vom Rath was a German embassy official stationed in Paris.
Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot the diplomat on November 7, 1938.
A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship
living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents,
residents in Germany since 1911, were among them.

Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were initially denied entry
into their native Poland. They found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near
the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany.
Already living illegally in Paris himself, a desperate Grynszpan apparently
sought revenge for his family’s precarious circumstances by appearing at the German embassy
and shooting the diplomatic official assigned to assist him.

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting.
The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch,
an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership,
assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext
to launch a night of antisemitic excesses.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms,
suggested to the convened Nazi ‘Old Guard’ that ‘World Jewry’ had conspired to commit
the assassination. He announced that “the Führer has decided that…
demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party,
but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

Now, let us look at a few similarities…
The “spontaneous” riots in 1938 were the result of the outrage over a wrongful death.

In the case of Germany, it was an assassination of a low-level government official.
In the US it was the death of an unarmed petty criminal.

In both cases, riots were instigated under the pretext of these wrongful deaths.

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who we know is credited with instigating
Germany’s “riots”, noted that Hitler had called for no organized demonstrations by
Party officials but that if things happened spontaneously…well, then so be it.

The turning of the blind eye.

And so we ask ourselves, how many in our own government raised a voice during the past
month decrying the civil unrest taking place across our nation?
What of those in our media?
What public figures raised their voices crying out that enough is enough?
Other than the President and his inner circle, what elected official has denounced
the violence?

Rather, our media and leadership are siding with and even encouraging the agitators–
they claim that nothing is wrong with the destruction of businesses, livelihoods,
churches, or monuments.

Now whereas some claims have been made that when Hitler came to power,
he defunded and disbanded the German police—
but in actuality, the opposite is the case.
But it was at a dire cost.

The United States Holocaust Museum continues…
Nazi state in fact alleviated many of the frustrations the police experienced
in the Weimar Republic.
The Nazis shielded the police from public criticism by censoring the press.
They ended street fighting by eliminating the Communist threat.
Police manpower was even extended by the incorporation of Nazi paramilitary organizations
as auxiliary policemen.
The Nazis centralized and fully funded the police to better combat criminal gangs
and promote state security.
The Nazi state increased staff and training, and modernized police equipment.
The Nazis offered the police the broadest latitude in arrests, incarceration,
and the treatment of prisoners.
The police moved to take “preventive action,” that is,
to make arrests without the evidence required for a conviction in court and
indeed without court supervision at all.

Conservative policemen were initially satisfied with the results of their cooperation
with the Nazi state.
Crime did indeed go down and the operation of criminal gangs ended.
Order was restored.
But there was a price.
The Nazi state was not a restoration of the imperial tradition.
It was at its core thoroughly racist.
The Nazis took control and transformed the traditional police forces of the Weimar Republic
into an instrument of state repression and, eventually, of genocide.

The Nazi state fused the police with the SS and Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD),
two of the most radical and ideologically committed Nazi organizations.
Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, also became the chief of all German police forces.

But the most egregious capitulation actually came from an unlikely organization—
that being the Chruch.

From the beginning of Nazi rule and the fateful years leading up to them,
Germany’s traditional spiritual and moral leaders failed to speak out against
hateful speech, violence.
After 1933, they failed to speak out against legal measures that progressively
stripped Jews of their rights.
Some church leaders, particularly within the more nationalistic “German Christian”
movement of the Protestant Evangelical Church, enthusiastically supported
the Nazi regime.

Only a small minority of religious leaders, ministers, and priests,
usually in isolated parishes, spoke out against Nazi racism, gave Sunday sermons
decrying the persecution of Germany’s Jews, provided aid, or hid Jews.
Without the support of their leaders and institutions,
voices of dissent had little effect.
Churches in communities across Germany also facilitated the implementation of racial laws
by providing baptismal records,
a proof of non-Jewish descent.

Church responses to the persecution of Jews were shaped by traditional forms of
religious antisemitism with deep roots in Christian history.
Clergy and church leaders were also influenced by larger political and social trends
in Germany after World War I, including rising nationalism and of special importance for the churches,
the fear of “Godless Communism” after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia,
which led to left-wing revolutionary activities in Germany.
Support for the repression of communism and the need to restore Germany’s economy
and status as a world power usually outweighed church leaders’ distaste for the
“un-Christian,” racialized thinking, and “paganism” many of them saw in Nazism.

By the time of Kristallnacht, the violent assault on Jews of November 9-10, 1938,
no church leader of influence spoke out to protest and in this,
they shared the complicity of university, business, and military leaders who were also
silent during events of which many disapproved or had qualms.
By this time, as the orgy of violence and terror of Kristallnacht showed,
it was probably too late. The Nazi regime had total control of public discourse and
spaces and of the tools of repression which became even harsher once war began,
from imprisonment without trial in a concentration camp to execution.

So where I have been going this week with all this talk about callings, vocations,
civil unrest, radicalism, capitulation, Nazi’s, police, The Chruch, the madness???
I’ll tie this all together tomorrow…

when disagreeing becomes a hate crime

The idea of opposing dangerous ideologies is not foreign to Americans,
but the idea of opposing an ideology that is also a religion is more problematic.
It has become increasingly problematic now that we live in an era in which merely
disagreeing with another’s opinions is tantamount to a hate crime.

William Kilpatrick
excerpt from LifeSite.com


(statue of homeless Jesus outside of Christ Cathedral Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ideology versus religion.
Disagreement versus hate.

We seem to be having a very difficult time discerning between these 4 words.

Ideology:
a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
c: the integrated assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

Religion:
a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Disagreement:
the state of being at variance

hate:
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury:
b: extreme dislike or disgust

I stumbled across the following article that I found most telling.
The title alone grabbed me and reeled me into reading further.
The Catholic Church Needs to Wake Up to Islam

The article focused on the hierarchy of the Chruch,
in particular the Catholic Chruch, and its inadequate response,
handling and understanding the difference between a religion versus that of an ideology.

With the religion and ideology in question being Islam.

A religion and ideology that has minced no words in its disdain for
those of the Judeo/ Christian world.

The problem is that church leaders seem not to understand that the two are indeed the same…
as in one in the same…a mindset along with a belief system.
Mr. Kilpatrick pointedly explains that the church fathers just don’t seem to “get that.”

Not only does the hierarchy of the Catholic Church struggle with the difference…
most of the Christian fold struggles.
They, they being you and I, struggle along with most of the secular west.

For you and I need to understand that a basic ingredient to our western DNA psyche is
the fact that we like to and want to “play nice”—it’s who we are.
We’re a kumbaya lot.

And that’s because we think and feel that that’s just how normal civilized human beings act…
People want to play nice right?

We want to and desperately try to give the benefit of the doubt to each and all—
along with that whole notion of ‘do unto others as you would want to be done unto you…
despite any religious inclination or not…that mindset is really at our core.

The problem is that various ideologies do not “play nice” nor do they care to play nice.
And we westerners just don’t get that.

And in our rush and zeal to always play nice, we’ve raced off half-cocked
decreeing that anyone who disagrees with an ideology…
well, they are guilty of being hateful…as in committing hate crimes.

So we’ve basically thrown the concept of disagreement out with the bath water and
hopscotched all the way over to hate.

Remeber when we use to acquiesce to those we couldn’t come to terms with by
saying “well, let’s just agree to disagree” …meaning that we realized that we were at
an impasse of thought on a topic or issue but we’d remain civil, cordial and even peaceful
by letting the disagreements pass without driving a wedge of contention—
each of us would keep our independent thoughts without fussing or bickering or
forcing our ways, thoughts, ideas upon the other.

It’s what civilized folks did.

Unfortunately, our society has morphed into something else entirely.
We no longer allow for disagreements but rather equate the word disagreement
with the word hate.

Two entirely different words with two entirely different meanings yet we’ve twisted them
together…melding the two into one.
Yet unlike Islam which is both a religion and ideology,
disagreement and hate are not one and the same.

And so sadly we are now seeing the various leaders of both the Christian and Jewish faiths
failing to understand the trouble in all of that thinking.

Yet what is most worrisome in all of this is that the Judaeo/ Christian faiths are
not offered or afforded the same gift of tolerance or global acceptance and the right
to disagree as, say, the ideology of Islam receives…
or even atheism for that matter…but that issue of thought
is for another day.

So now Christians and Jews are expected to bend to the wields of the very ideology
that actually seethes a deep hatred toward their very existence.

So it was with great interest that I read the following words and article by
William Kilpatrick in an article in Crisis Magazine.

Mr. Kilpatrick offers a warning that it would be wise that our religious leader stand firm
against ideologies…while explaining that to stand firm does not mean that we are to hate…
merely that we hold true to the tenants of our faiths…

By contrast, Church leaders and Pope Francis in particular, have become,
in effect, enablers of Islam.
Pope Francis has denied that Islam sanctions violence,
has drawn a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism
(“If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence”),
and has campaigned for the admittance of millions of Muslim migrants into Europe.
Moreover, he has criticized those who oppose his open borders policy as hard-hearted xenophobes.
In return for his efforts,
he has been publicly thanked by several Muslim leaders for his “defense of Islam.”

One might be tempted to use the word “collaborator” instead of “enabler.”
But collaborator is too strong a word. In its World War II context,
it implies a knowing consent to and cooperation with an evil enterprise.
It seems clear to me that the pope and others in the hierarchy are enabling the spread
of an evil ideology; however,
it’s not at all clear that they understand what they’re doing.
Francis, for instance, seems to sincerely believe that all religions are roughly equal in goodness.
Thus for him, the spread of any religion must seem like a good thing.
It’s an exceedingly naïve view, but one that seems honestly held.

But one can’t plead ignorance forever.
Eventually, the reality of the situation will become plain to all but the most obtuse.
At that point – at the point the threat is undeniable –
we assume that the people in power will wake up and take the appropriate actions.
But what if the awakening comes too late? The pope, for one,
has shown little evidence that he will change his views on the subject.
If anything, he has doubled down –
recently going so far as to say that the rights of migrants trump national security.
We should not look to the pope to lead the way on this issue.
He seems constitutionally incapable of entertaining doubts about his Islam policy.
It looks like the impetus to change course will have to come from bishops,
priests and Catholic laity.
They had better get busy.
There is no time to waste.

Published with permission from Crisis Magazine

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-catholic-church-needs-to-wake-up-about-islam

What are we to do?

“Make up your mind,” Moab says. “Render a decision. Make your shadow like night – at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees.”
Isaiah 16:3

DSC02486
(a morning glory found deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2015)

Both Lucy Lipiner and Gerda Weissmann Klein have a tale to tell. . .

Each woman weaves a story steeped in the sweet innocence of childhood which is suddenly and unimaginably lost in the midst of unspeakable horrors. . .yet thankfully theirs is a tale of eventual survival and of small yet victorious triumphs.

There are a few differences between these two woman of which create two very individual stories. . .
Differences such as their age and the fact that they were each born in different small towns.
Yet it is to the similarities between them that inextricably binds them together for all of eternity.
I am pretty certain that these woman do not personally know one another nor have they ever met, but I somehow think that in many ways they have known one another very well for a very long time as they have both survived the unimaginable stemming from the same wicked source. . .

Each woman was born in Poland and each woman was born into a Jewish family.
Whoever would have imagined that those two seemingly insignificant factors would mark these women for the rest of their lives by placing them in the valley of the shadow of Death. Had they been born say, in America or Canada, or England, their stories would certainly have been less then memorable. Lives lived as mostly anyone else’s.
But because they were born in a country lying in the path of a very hungry and vicious animal, tragedy was to be their lot.

I have finished reading Lucy’s tale and have now begun Gerda’s equally gripping story.
As I waited in the dentist office yesterday, reading until I was called back, I had tears flooding my eyes as I read the story of an individual family, like my own family or anyone’s family, being ripped apart as they stood by helpless to prevent the rupture.

Despite the fact that these two lady’s stories took place over 70 years ago, I have been struck by the similarities of the worldwide current plights now littering our news.

Each was a young girl when The War broke out–when Germany marched forth seizing Poland as its own.
Each girl came from a prominent family within their respective towns. They were loved, nurtured and happy living their lives as innocent children.

I think it is Lucy’s story that I have found to be most relevant to any story I might read in today’s paper—that of any number of families fleeing Syria or Egypt or Turkey or Somalia or Tunisia, or Eritrea, etc.— each seeking refuge from the unspeakable horrors of the upheaval of what was an average life.

Lucy’s family was on the run for almost 10 years. Starting when she was 6 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939– they became just another statistic of families in the throng of the displaced as they sought refuge in the Soviet Union and later Tajikistan then briefly back to Poland and ironically to Germany and eventually to the US.
There was death, violence, sexual abuse, grave hunger, incapacitating illness, loss, sorrow, separation and near madness.

They had been a family like any other family–they had a nice home, nice clothes, nice jewelry. They went to Temple. They enjoyed their extended family. They attended school. They had jobs. They played music as they lived, loved and laughed—-

Suddenly life took a turn beyond their control and they lost everything–they became hunted, like animals. They were reduced to wearing clothes turned to rags as there was no longer choice. They lost weight. They were hungry. They were infested with bugs, inside and out. They ate rotten trash and drank fetid water to quell an endless hunger. They were dirty, they smelled. They were sick both physically, spiritually and mentally.
They were shells of human beings.

Miraculously the family remained intact but it came at a tremendous cost to each member of the family. They survived in part due the kindness of those strangers and individuals encountered along the long and arduous journey who were willing to offer aid, shelter and comfort, as meager as it was. . .to dirty and seemingly unsavory subhuman individuals who were considered enemies of every state simply for being Jewish.

Yesterday’s news ran a story about the discovery of a lorry, or tractor trailer, abandoned on a road in Austria containing at least 70 dead bodies of migrants, or refugees, who were on what they thought to be a journey to freedom.

Today there was the story of another capsized ship losing possibly 500 individuals–men, women and children drowning while on their way to freedom.

There have been the stories of the Chunnel being overrun and shut down, day after day, by the thousands of migrants in Calais seeking asylum and freedom.

There was the story of an arson attack on a migrant shelter in Germany, as Angela Merkel was booed by those Germans not wanting to see Germany overrun by the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking safe haven.

It is said that the current influx of migrants from both Africa and the Middle East is the largest exodus of people since World War II.

A humanitarian crisis of epic proportion.

The worry– how will the small European Nations absorb the millions of people running away from tyranny, abuse and horror. . .how will they be able to provide for all of these “other” people as they continue providing for their own. . .?

These refugees are different–culturally, religiously and ethnically.

Later I read a story about the marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The story told the tale of how one group of New Orleans citizens did not want the “other” New Orleans citizens, those who were the evacuees coming from the more disadvantaged areas, to cross the bridge bringing them into the more affluent neighborhoods.

These citizens were afraid of being overrun with what was thought to be unsavory individuals bringing with them drugs, crime and violence—those citizens coming from the areas which were known to be rife with such—
And I suppose some of those feelings may have been justified after we heard the stories of the rapes and murders taking place within the Superdome when it was opened to those evacuating the lower 9th ward.

Is it fear that keeps us weary, holding our arms outward not as arms offering a welcoming embrace but rather as arms pushing away and repelling those who come seeking aid and assistance?

How can we take on an endless sea of people in need–economically absorbing the astronomical costs for healthcare, housing, education, employment and assimilation?

What of the hidden terrorists among the masses?

Are we not told to be hospitable and welcoming–offering sustenance and aid to our fellow human beings who are in desperate need?

Would we not want someone to do the same for us?

One country closes its borders.

Is that fair to the other surrounding countries?

How do we feed them all?

Where will they stay?

What of those who are criminals?

What of the illness and disease they bring with them?

What of the myriad of language barriers?

What will happen to our own way of life when it yields to the incoming masses?

Do we lose ourselves, our identity, while giving of ourselves to the “other?”

I don’t know the answers to these hard questions and I don’t think the rest of the world knows the answers either–
yet I simply keep hearing these words. . .

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 35-40

Lusia’s Long Journey Home
A young Girls’ Memoir of Surviving the Holocaust
by Lucy Lipiner

A Memoir
All But My Life
by Gerda Weissmann Klein