‘People haven’t learned much’

Attendees at the commemoration in the Amsterdam Portuguese synagogue

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“I think it’s terrible that our schools and synagogues will have to be guarded in 2023. Who would have thought such a thing?” This was said by Kristallnacht survivor Mirjam Weitzner-Smuk at the commemoration in Amsterdam of the large-scale attack on Jews in Nazi Germany 85 years ago.

Weitzner-Smuk was the first speaker tonight in the Portuguese Synagogue. The commemoration started later than planned due to the large influx of people. Never before were there so many registrationsthe organization said in advance.

‘War hurts terribly’

Weitzner-Smuk talked about what she experienced and made a connection with the present. The war between Israel and Hamas “hurts terribly in my heart,” she said into the microphone.

On October 7, Hamas carried out a terrorist attack that killed more than 1,400 people, most of them Israelis. More than 240 people were also kidnapped. In the aftermath of the war between Hamas and Israel, the number of reports of anti-Semitism has increased significantly. Jewish schools have kept their doors closed out of fear, memorial gatherings have been canceled.

“Now we also see anti-Semitic threats and expressions,” said outgoing Minister of Finance Kaag at the commemoration in the synagogue. “We cannot allow this. We must never tolerate people feeling unsafe because of who they are,” the deputy prime minister said. “Because there is always a risk that people will turn words into action. Because the poison of language still works.”

“I’m not optimistic,” Weitzner-Smuk said. “I don’t think people have learned much.”

She lived with her father and mother in Essen 85 years ago. “My father said to us: you have to go to your aunt tonight.” They did so and on the street mother and daughter were confronted “with a terrible noise. All people were singing and marching.”

Marching Men

The next day they went back home. On the way they all saw destroyed shops. A synagogue had been destroyed and there were burnt books. “My mother picked up some leaves and kissed them,” Weitzner-Smuk said. “At home, the door was wide open. What we saw is indescribable. There were all kinds of shards on the floor. My mother sat down on a chair. She took me on her lap and held me tightly.”

The Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Modi Ephraim, also spoke in the Amsterdam synagogue. He talked about his parents who were persecuted in Europe during the war. And that Jews are now having to deal with hatred again.

“After the Holocaust we said never again. But never again is now.”

Kristallnacht is also commemorated in Germany. Chancellor Scholz said in Berlin that he is deeply ashamed of the flare-up of anti-Semitism:

‘We will not tolerate anti-Semitism anywhere’

The post first appeared on nos.nl

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