Holocaust survivors worldwide are warning against the resurgence of antisemitism as they commemorate Kristallnacht, also known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” which took place 84 years ago on Wednesday and saw Nazis persecute Jews throughout Germany and Austria.
Several Holocaust survivors have narrated on video how antisemitic rhetoric led to acts that almost saw the mass slaughter of Jews in Europe in the last century as part of the organization handling claims on behalf of Jews who suffered under the Nazis’ regime.
One of them is Eva Szepesi, a 90-year-old survivor of Auschwitz.
When she was eight years old, she remarked, “I couldn’t understand why my dearest friends were shouting nasty names at me.”
Szepesi was surprised by her best friends’ treatment of her, but she soon found herself escaping the Nazis before being apprehended and sent to Auschwitz at 12.
In Auschwitz, her brother and parents were killed.
During the Kristallnacht pogroms across Germany and Austria on November 9, 1938, the Nazis—among them many common Germans—killed at least 91 people and vandalized 7,500 Jewish businesses.
More than 1,400 synagogues were also torched, according to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
Up to 30,000 Jewish men were detained, many of whom were sent to Dachau or Buchenwald, two Nazi concentration camps. Years before the formal mass deportations started, hundreds more suffered abuse in the camps and either committed suicide or died.
The Nazis and their goons had slaughtered six million European Jews by the time World War II ended in 1945.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, popularly known as the Claims Conference, relaunched the #ItStartedWithWords campaign, a digital education initiative in which survivors reflect on the events that preceded the Holocaust.
They were in a time when they could not have foreseen how easily their neighbors, teachers, classmates, and coworkers would turn against them, turning their hateful words into violent deeds.