Kristallnacht, the German pogrom on November 9, 1938 that preceded the Nazi Holocaust and the “final solution” to Europe’s “Jewish problem” is commemorated every year at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
This year’s event began with an artists’ exhibition titled “The Last Portrait” that featured paintings of men, women and children in Nazi death camps. The artists managed to hide most of these portraits, and those who survived returned after the war to reclaim their work.
The portraits serve as an important reminder of the humanity these inmates retained under the most difficult of circumstances. Personal notes found with the paintings provide a silent witness and an eternal memorial for these lost lives.
Following the exhibition tour a memorial service was conducted in Memorial Hall, where the names of 22 death camps are engraved on the floor. One Holocaust survivor concluded his address to those gathered with the words “Am Israel Chai – the People of Israel Live!”
The day ended with a ceremony in Yad Vashem’s auditorium, where one testimony in particular stood out. Sarah, a German Jewess who witnessed Kristallnacht, recounted her flight from angry mobs. After a long chase, she fell down in front of the German Supreme Court in Berlin, where the mob hurled clumps of dirt at her. Her voice shaking, Sarah told how at the time she had thought: “Law and justice are supposed to emanate from this place.”
We cannot undo the suffering of the past, but we can provide comfort to those Holocaust survivors who are still with us – Please help us do so