Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kristallnacht concert

Tomorrow, November 9, is the 70th anniversary of the Reichskristallnacht, the Nazi-inspired pogrom throughout Germany and Austria in which more than 91 Jews lost their lives, more than 1,000 synagogues were damaged and some 7,500 Jewish businesses were ransacked and looted.

The British violinist Daniel Hope has organized a concert in Berlin to commemorate the victims of Kristallnacht. From Daniel Hope's website:

I came across Gilbert’s book recently, and while I knew about the “Reichskristallnacht”, it wasn’t until I read the book that the historical consequences of that night’s events became clear to me. The horrifyingly meticulous description of the violence against the Jews was utterly overwhelming. Since then the question as to what I would have done in such circumstances has begun to haunt me.

“Reichskristallnacht” took place 70 years ago and yet its consequences are still reflected in today’s society. Situations that require civil courage, individual or collective, continue to arise, whether it’s an individual attack on a defenseless fellow human being or the brutality of groups such as rightwing radical skinheads. Remembering the 1938 pogroms is a much-needed symbolic action in our society today. It echoes a call to all civilized people never again to ignore unacceptable violence by inaction.

For Hope, whose family was forced to flee Berlin and the Nazis, the event has urgent political importance as well as obvious personal significance. Throughout his career, Hope has advocated – both in live performance and with recordings – the music of the so-called “Entartete” composers – those composers deemed “degenerate” and subsequently destroyed by the Nazis.

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