B’nai B’rith remembers Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which took place in Germany and Austria on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. At least 96 Jews were killed, more than 1,000 synagogues were set on fire, nearly 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed, and countless community centers, libraries and homes were attacked, looted and destroyed during the explosion of terror. About 30,000 Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Throughout November, B’nai B’rith Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Panama and Costa Rica held remembrance programs marking the anniversary.
For 19 years B’nai B’rith Argentina has organized Kristallnacht commemoration ceremonies in cooperation with the Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. This year the B’nai B’rith-sponsored, interreligious ceremony was held at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral with Buenos Aires Archbishop Mario Poli presiding over the program.
Unfortunately, when Poli attempted to start the ceremony, a small group consisting of anti-Semites and followers of the radical Society of St. Pius X began to pray loudly, with some reportedly exclaiming that those who killed Jesus are staining the church. B’nai B’rith praises the Archbishop for his response, quickly dismissing the vile demonstrators who left shortly after their disruption began.
Speaking about the protesters, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said: “This incident is a prime example of why we can never allow the passing of time to undermine the memory of what occurred during the Night of Broken Glass. Even though those who harbor hatred toward Jews are in the minority, we must remain vigilant against them.”
B’nai B’rith Chile organized a ceremony that was attended by students of the Hebrew Institute of Santiago and other area schools, including two German-language schools. German Ambassador Daniel Kriener, Israeli Ambassador David Dadon, Executive Director of B'nai B'rith Chile Mario Sadovnik and Holocaust survivor Gunteer Seelman spoke at the event. The ambassadors of Austria, Italy, Greece, Belgium, and diplomatic representatives of the United States, Poland, Croatia and Russia attended the ceremony, as did a number of rabbis, leaders of community institutions, and Holocaust survivors.
B’nai B’rith Uruguay hosted Vice President Danilo Astori, former presidents, political leaders, congressmen and diplomats at a Kristallnacht ceremony that was broadcast live by seven television stations. The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Uruguayan historian Gerardo Caetano.
B’nai B’rith Paraguay hosted a ceremony with Argentinean writer and TV journalist Nelson Castro, who spoke before a large crowd that included representatives of the new government. Click here to read an interview with Castro in Paraguay’s largest daily newspaper, ABC Color. Castro discusses the event and reflects on the Night of Broken Glass.
B’nai B’rith Panama and Costa Rica hosted programs featuring the same keynote speaker, former president of Uruguay Luis Lacalle. Panama hosted a number of guests, including members of the government, legislature and foreign diplomats. In Costa Rica Vice President Luis Lieberman and Israeli Ambassador Abraham Haddad attended the event, along with members of the legislature and other diplomats.
“These programs show the strong commitment in Latin America to remembering Kristallnacht, which marks the descent into genocide against the Jewish people,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Continuing this tradition of commemorating the Night of Broken Glass is the only way to ensure the events of those brutal days are not forgotten.”