European synagogues keep lights on to mark 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht

Prime minister Boris Johnson said ‘we will never let the lights go out’ 


Synagogues across Europe kept their lights on overnight on Monday to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht. 

It is part of a campaign by March of the Living. ‘Let There Be Light’ urged communities to “leave the lights on to commemorate the ones that were extinguished on that fateful night, and the light they emit will shine to a distance.” 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson commended the campaign, describing Kristallnacht as leading to “humanity’s darkest moment.” 

He added: “We will never let the lights go out.” 

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said: “While the ovens of the Nazi crematoria have long since been extinguished, the flames that consumed Jewish houses of worship, homes and businesses on Kristallnacht still burn to this day. They are the flames of hatred, intolerance and racism. 

“My hope and prayer is that humankind will learn from history, lest we repeat it.” 

Aron Verstandig, chairman of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, wrote on Facebook: “The light that streams out lights up even the darkest evenings.” 

In Sweden, the Great Synagogue of Stockholm was lit up last night. 

In Frankfurt, the Main Synagogue – one of the few that was not destroyed during Kristallnacht – was illuminated with a projection of broken glass and different coloured lights. 

Head of the Jewish Community Frankfurt am Main, Prof. Dr. Salomon Korn, said: “Antisemitism and racism threaten our society as a whole, they endanger our values and our democracy. Together we want to send a signal against the increase of antisemitism and hate-speech all over the world.” 

9 November 1938 marked the pogrom carried out by Nazi paramilitary forces following the assassination of a German diplomat by a 17-year-old Polish Jew, with many Jewish institutions across Germany and Austria ransacked. 

Rioters destroyed 267 synagogues, and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed. 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. 

Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich wrote on Monday: “The world must learn that lesson to never sit idly by when evil is committed against a nation, a people or a religion. As we well know, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  

“#LetTherebeLight should be the wake-up call and a reminder to all to react forcefully to signs of discrimination, and intolerance.” 

Rabbi Bleich’s Great Choral Synagogue in Kyiv lit up its stained-glass windows for the evening. 

In a joint statement, March of the Living president Phyllis Greenberg Heideman and chair Dr Shmuel Rosenman wrote: “We must use our voices to tell the world that attacks on Jews and non-Jews alike, whether on the basis of religion, race, colour or creed are inexcusable.  

“In the days when synagogues and holy places for various religions are attacked on a regular basis all over the world, it is our duty to speak out loudly and clearly.” 

Commemorations were also projected onto the walls of the Old City walls in Jerusalem and Convetry Cathedral in the UK.

The Dean of Coventry, the Very Rev John Witcombe recounted the destruction of the cathedral in 1940 at the hands of the Luftwaffe.

"On this anniversary of Kristallnacht we will be projecting messages onto our Cathedral to remind the world of the catastrophe of turning against one another in hatred," he said.

"We will be reminding the world of the light of God’s love and hope burning through the darkness. We will be doing this to remember - so that we may never repeat the destruction which stole so many lives, tore apart so many loves."

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