Monday, November 9, 2009


Today & tomorrow are known to some as The Night of Broken Glass.  In March 1938, Austrian citizens welcomed with parades & celebrations the German 'invaders'.  I do not actually expect that anyone who reads this blog is under the delusion that Nazi atrocities never occurred, but as to the Austrians celebrating, I know there are those who insist it was not true.  So I give you Ann Shapiro: she was a friend of my mothers (& her son wrote a book about her gardening skills sort-of, that is not really germane to today's blog entry).  She was quite sure of what she saw & would have been happy to refer you to many of her relatives who also witnessed it but... they are all dead.

On October 28, 1938, more than 12K Jews were expelled from Germany, with almost no notice, just a few hours at most to pack one suitcase (leaving the rest of their belongings to looters AKA neighbors).  The son of one expelled family shot & killed a German embassy official.  In Paris.

In response, the German government coordinated attack on jewish neighborhoods in Germany & then acquired Austria.  Because of their attempts to defend their homes & families, there was now good reason to:  prevent Jews from owning firearms, publishing newspapers, attending school, gathering in large numbers & just plain being allowed to live among decent people. 

To be specific: a lone gunmen, who did not flee or even deny that he was responsible for the shooting, was held by police in another country, the country in which the shooting took place, but to be on the safe side, the German government (or according to the German government, the German people) thought it would be a good idea to attack ethnically similar people living in their own neighborhoods.

I think I am going to stop here, actually.  If you really truly want to read more about this almost unrecognized day (& by virtually unknown to mainstream US society), there is more material out there than I could ever list here.  There is so much material that my own bookclub has twice had accidental nazi books; books we choose because they were about one thing but turned out to be about nazis. 

I am stopping because I am, frankly, sick of nazis.  Aside from all the good reasons to be sick of nazis, I am just plain sick of the word. I would like to offer a new (old) word:  pogrom.  A pogrom is a little like a fatwa only instead of originating in a religious community it begins in a political one.  It is an organized riot, a coordinated attack on people who have been prevented from defending themselves; it is the targeting of a group of people over whom you have mastery for the purposes of destroying them quickly & completely.

//If you are curious, the accidental nazi book were:  Pink Slip by Rita Ciresi about an Italian-American working at a pharmaceutical company in 1980s Long Island which actually features the very scene one member asked that we avoid & tomorrow's quite-by-coincidence selection:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  We still recommend both of them.

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