On the night of Nov. 9, 1938, the sound of breaking glass throughout Nazi Germany was so prevalent that it came to be called Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. That's when the Nazis orchestrated the destruction of Jewish property, burning of synagogues and mass deportation of thousands of Polish Jews living in Germany to gauge the reaction of the Western world.
When none came, the Nazis were emboldened to launch the systematic destruction of Jewish life and Jewish civilization. It was a year before the start of World War II and before the Holocaust was put into place, but it was a harrowing time for the Jewish communities of Germany and Austria.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of that terrible event, the Xavier community today, Friday, Nov. 8, is reading the names of victims of the Holocaust in the hope that by bringing attention to the Night of Broken Glass, the world will attune its ears to the sound of broken glass around the world—the tragedies of genocide and destruction that are unfolding even today.
The event takes place in front of the Gallagher Student Center from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Rabbi Abie Ingber, Executive Director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, is setting up a large window with the word Jude painted on it in yellow. The window will sit in a pile of broken glass as Xavier students read the names of children who were murdered in the Holocaust. Passersby will be asked to wear a lapel pin with a glass shard glued to it.
“If we had heard the shattering of glass in 1938, might the events of 1939-1945 have been different?” said Ingber, the son of Holocaust survivors. “We are witnessing the ‘breaking of glass’ today in the tragic suicides of young gay students bullied to death, sexual violence against women, the issue of slavery in our modern world, Darfur, and elsewhere.”