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The evils which did not make the news

· On 9-10 November Kristallnacht in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia ·

The following is are brief excerpts from the address given by the Chief Rabbi of Argentina at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut on Monday, 10 November.

Seventy six years have passed since that dark night in History in which almost all the synagogues in Germany and Austria were destroyed by the Nazi mobs. Despite the horrible anti-Semitic discrimination laws which were promulgated since 1933, when the Nazis came to power in Germany, that night it became clear for everyone that violence against Jews will not stop until their expulsion or elimination from Europe. A history of a thousand years of Jewish presence in Ashkenaz came to an end. The most abhorrent expression of human perversion had begun that night. The idea of humanism and its meaning requires since then a new and dramatic definition.

The Shoah was not something produced by the circumstantial rage of a moment of blindness. Day after day during years people were passive witnesses of the deportation of their neighbors, others conducted them to death and others transformed their bodies into ashes. They were incapable to distinguish the human condition in the Jews. The Nazis succeed in their efforts to transform the Jews into devils in the minds of millions in the cultured Europe. They had the ability to concentrate the different anti-Jewish sentiments developed in Europe during centuries, into a well-crystallized hate. Where were then the intellectuals? Why the different creeds did not react more significantly in order to curb the slaughter? Why were so few those that really took care of the fate of their brothers?

Next January 27th will be the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which marks symbolically the end of the functioning of the factories of death. That very day is the starting point of the formulation of the most terrible questions we have to ask ourselves as well as all the generations to come until the end of the days, which are: How was it possible that people who rose up in the midst of a developed culture, changed their norms of respect and consideration to the “other” and participated by action or by omission in the murder of their neighbors? Where were in those terrible days the moral conscience built up during two thousand years of Christianity and Greco-Latin culture?

Abraham Skorka

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