Wrocław commemorates 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht

Participants of the “March of Mutual Respect” at the monument commemorating the Wrocław synagogue that was burnt during Kristallnacht. Photo: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński

On the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 German pogrom against Jews, a commemorative march took place in Wrocław.

Several hundred people gathered on Wednesday afternoon at the “March of Mutual Respect” in Wrocław.

The march commemorated the killing of more than one hundred Jews and the destruction of their shops by Nazi paramilitary forces, SA. The pogrom took place on the night of November 9, 1938 throughout the whole of Nazi Germany, including Wrocław that was part of German territory at that time. It became known as Kristallnacht, or “the Night of Broken Glass.” The event is widely regarded as the beginning of the Holocaust as shortly after the mass deportation of Jews to concentration camps began.

The march started at the Wrocław synagogue and concluded at the memorial for the synagogue that was burnt during Kristallnacht.

At the opening ceremony, deputy head of the Jewish Community in Wrocław Szymon Filek said that the event needs to be remembered for several reasons, including its significance as the beginning of the Holocaust.

“Kristallnacht constitutes an example of the birth of social phenomena of which all of us can become victims, regardless of our ethnicity or religious membership”, Mr Filek said, emphasising that the pogrom “took place among people joined by shared language, history, and culture. Mad, racist, nationalist ideology led common people to steal, burn, and kill.”

According to Mr Filek, that is why respect towards others is so important. “It is a kind of warning that respect is necessary so no more Kristallnachts can happen, regardless of what faith, race, of origin their perpetrators and victims.”

The Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari said that remembering Kristallnacht is of immense importance, as “deep hatred starts from one step.”