Kristallnacht in Our Midst

November 8, 2010

On the 72nd anniversary of what is considered the beginning of the Holocaust, November 9, 2010, the Xavier University community will quietly raise an alarm.

On November 9, 1938 the Jewish of community of Germany suffered in an attack orchestrated by the Nazis to destroy Jewish property, burn synagogues and deport thousands of Polish Jews living in Germany. This night of horrible destruction and shattered glass came to be known as Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass. The Nazis viewed Kristallnacht as a test to see if the global community would react to such events. It did not, and the Holocaust’s destruction of lives and Jewish civilization ensued.

Had the global community listened to the sound of breaking glass throughout Germany, would the events of 1939 – 1945 have been different? Glass is breaking now in our midst. “We are witnessing the suicides of young gay students bullied to death, sexual violence against women, the issue of slavery in our modern world, the genocide of Darfur, etc.,” says Paola Marziano, event chair with Xavier’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement. “We must listen for the sounds of breaking glass and be aware of the destruction unfolding on our watch.”

Anyone may stop by the display in front of the Gallagher Student Center from 11am – 2pm on November 9th, to read some names of Holocaust victims and those of any whose death was an alarm. Visitors may also offer names from tragedies around the globe which occurred when we failed to hear the sound of breaking glass. Passersby will be asked to wear a lapel pin with a glass shard affixed.

It is hoped that by bringing attention to the Night of Broken Glass, we will learn to recognize the sound of glass breaking in the world.