This month marks the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass – when 267 synagogues and 7,500 businesses owned by Jews, as well as Jewish homes, schools, and hospitals, were destroyed or damaged by Nazis in Germany and Austria. More than 90 people were killed over the course of the night. In Vienna, 91 synagogues were destroyed.
“The voices speaking out against the events of Kristallnacht were few in 1938,” said U.S. Charge d’Affairs to the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kate Byrnes. Very few governments condemned the violence, and very few religious leaders protested the cruelty perpetrated against Jews. “As we remember Kristallnacht,” said Ms. Byrnes, “let us remember our moral responsibility, both as government officials and as individuals, to speak out against all forms of hatred and intolerance.”
Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past.
It is worth recalling, said Charge Byrnes, that the OSCE has a rich body of commitments to combat anti-Semitism, and intolerance and discrimination more broadly. All participating states should implement these common commitments. The United States urges participating states that have not already done so to enact appropriate legislation to combat hate crimes, collect data on the commission of these crimes, provide appropriate training to law enforcement and assistance to victimized communities, engage civil society to promote tolerance, and promote inclusion of minority groups.
“No participating [OSCE] state is immune from intolerance,” said Ms. Byrnes, “and we must work together to prevent discrimination and hatred from gaining currency in our societies.”