Anniversaries - good and bad

Posted by Tory Historian Thursday, November 13, 2008

There are a few anniversaries this week that need to be remembered, apart from Remembrance Day (known as Veterans’ Day in the United States). Keeping with the American theme, let us recall that November 10 saw the US Marine Corps’ 233rd birthday. What can one say but Semper Fi?

Now to a darker anniversary: the night of November 9 – 10, 1938 is known as Kristallnacht. It all started on November 7, when the 19 year old Hershel Freible Grynszpan walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot the diplomat Ernst vom Rahm, whether because he was the one immediately available or, as some theories hold, because he really intended to shoot him. Grynszpan’s own story was that he was protesting the treatment of Jews in Germany, particularly that of his own family.

As all terrorist acts, this, too had the opposite of the intended effect, as the Nazis used vom Rath’s death to unleash an ĂĽberpogrom against the Jews. During Kristallnacht 92 Jews were murdered, between 25,000 and 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, around 200 synagogues were destroyed as were many thousands of Jewish businesses.

Eventually, this led to one of the great horrors of the twentieth century: the Holocaust.

But it would be good to finish on a happier note. Most of the last century was overshadowed by two terrible wars with very little peace between them and, even more so, two monstrous political ideologies: Nazism and Communism.

So, let us recall that November 9, 1989 saw the beginning of the end for the second one of these – the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Little needs to be added to that except two pictures: that of the young soldier, Conrad Schumann, leaping to freedom on August 15, 1961, as the Wall was being built and the end of that structure. Let us not forget that it was brought down by the people who, despite being so told by many a left-wing thinker and writer in the West, did not think the German Democratic Republic was a place they wanted to live in.


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