Against ‘Kristallnacht’

Against ‘Kristallnacht’

Kudos for your timely and edifying Nov. 5 cover story and the accompanying heartfelt narratives and evocative photographs set in a sensitive and creatively artistic layout. Indeed, I felt proud that our newspaper was the one to demonstrate good judgment and courage by transcending the conventional and the trendy and assuming an additional important role – namely, that of an erudite and inspiring educator. However, I found the use of the name “Kristallnacht” disturbing. I am certain that I am not the only person who finds this word not only jarring but also personally hurtful, unsettling, and demeaning.

This name ought to live in infamy, since it is loaded with deeply offensive and repulsive meanings. The word “Kristallnacht” was coined by the Nazi perpetrators of this horrible atrocity, who cunningly invested the word with an insulting and demeaning subtext. “Kristallnacht” was designed to convey the idea that “while we, poor and impoverished Germans have to live in dimly lit rooms, those filthy rich Jews are feasting under crystal chandeliers. So, on this night let us smash all those crystal chandeliers, and while we are at it, let us also crack a few heads of those damned bloodsucking Jews.” Consequently, this odious and offensive term has no place in our vocabulary, just as the derogatory and theologically demeaning term the “Wailing Wall” was finally expunged and banished.

I hope that when my grandchildren and their contemporaries will be taught this chapter in Jewish and world history courses, sensitive teachers will be able to explain to them the full extent of the loathsome meanings that “Kristallnacht” connotes.

Indeed, “Kristallnacht” was not an ordinary pogrom, but rather a meticulously planned and orchestrated act of violence and murder designed by the German authorities with the specific intent of wreaking havoc and instilling fear among the Jews throughout the entire country and beyond. In this respect it served as a precursor for the subsequent atrocities of the “Final Solution” during the Holocaust.

I hope that on the next anniversary of this event the general media would also be cognizant of these facts. And following up on your judicious decision to devote six (!) pages to this important event in our recent history, The Jewish Standard would also refrain from using the offensive and hurtful term “Kristallnacht,” thus elevating the standard of responsible, sensitive, and edifying reporting to a new level.