In memory of Kristallnacht and the Hamas pogrom, the online event “Never Again – Is Now!” took place in Tübingen, Germany with a great turnout.
With around 200 participants on site and approximately 1000 people taking part online, the event made a visible sign against antisemitism.
The evening drew attention to two events that are tragically linked by history. On the one hand, the event commemorated the Reichspogromnacht on November 9, 1938, when synagogues were set on fire, Jewish businesses destroyed, thousands of Jews mistreated and imprisoned and murdered in concentration camps. The reaction in Germany and around the world at the time was often characterized by silence and indifference. Six years later, six million Jews in Europe had been murdered at the hands of the Germans.
Secondly, the event commemorated the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. In which, 1,400 Israelis were murdered in the most brutal manner and entire kibbutzim were burned down. Over 240 people, including many children, women and elderly people were abducted and are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip today. The event posed the pressing question of our response to these acts of violence and ongoing antisemitism: are we prepared to actively stand up for Israel and Jewish life, and what measures are we prepared to take, to firmly and publicly oppose antisemitism at all times?
Jobst Bittner, founder and president of the March of Life, opened the evening by emphasizing the unprecedented barbarity of Hamas terror on October 7. More Jews were killed on that day than at any other time since the Holocaust. He also pointed to the worldwide surge in antisemitism: “Millions of people gather in the world’s capitals under Palestinian flags and chant ‘Free Palestine’ – or proclaim a free Palestine ‘from the river to the sea’. These are slogans that have long since become a totalitarian call for Israel’s annihilation.”
Tirza Halivni, Holocaust survivor and guest of honor, shared her memories of the Reichspogromnacht: “I was four years old on the Reichspogromnacht. I remember, as I do today, that my father was almost beaten to death. He later died in Dachau from the abuse. Today I’m 89 and when Hamas attacked, I relived the Reichspogromnacht as if I were that four-year-old child again.”
A song entitled “Nachamu Ami (“Comfort my people”) was then sung in honor of Tirza Halivni and in memory of the victims of the Hamas attack.
Natalie Sandadji and Matty Danzig survived the pogrom by Hamas terrorists. Natalie told how she was one of the few visitors to the Nova Festival who managed to escape. She and a few other young women ran through the desert for four hours. When they were exhausted and had to take a break, a white pick-up truck approached. Waiting and expecting to be shot after all, to their relief the driver was actually looking for survivors, to take them to safety in the next village.
Matty Danzig spoke about how he spent the day of the Hamas pogrom; in great fear with his children in the bunker and that, he was one of the few survivors in his kibbutz: “I looked at my wife and 2 little daughters and knew they were going from house to house and we heard the gunshots. We sat there for eight hours and every minute felt like an eternity. There are 365 houses in the kibbutz and 6 houses were spared – we don’t know why, but we are grateful!”
His father, Alexander, a Holocaust survivor himself, was unfortunately abducted and remains a hostage in Gaza to this day. Afterwards, Knesset Member Sharren Haskell told her own family story. Her grandmother experienced the Reichspogromnacht in Leipzig and her grandfather survived Auschwitz. She emphasized the importance of the political measures to free the hostages in the Gaza Strip.
Arthur Maserjian, Chief of Staff at the Combat Antisemitism Movement, spoke about the worldwide explosion of antisemitism: “Synagogues are being attacked everywhere. It doesn’t stop in the Middle East, but antisemitism is also erupting at elite universities in the US at an alarming rate. Jewish students are afraid and no longer leave the house at all. “He therefore called on people to take a clear and public stance against this growing antisemitism and to raise their voices.
The reports of the directors of the March of Life, who take to the streets for Israel worldwide, as well as personal stories of people who, due to their own family’s involvement in the atrocities of the National Socialists and raising their voices for Israel and against antisemitism, were also of great importance. “It is not enough to say “Never again” to the Holocaust, especially if we want to prevent the hatred of Jews from turning into violence and anti-Semitic defamation from spreading further. In this day and age, we can once again be accomplices and, like our ancestors, become guilty through our silence,” said Jobst Bittner. The way forward is to come to terms with family history.
Rapper Samuel Haas, who was an antisemite himself as a young adult, and rapped hate lyrics until he realized that the antisemitism of his ancestors lived on in him, also emphasized this. His new song “Nicht allein” is a statement of solidarity with Israel and an encouragement to Jews worldwide who feel left alone.
In closing, Jobst Bittner and Heinz Reuss, the International Director of the March of Life, called on all participants to take concrete steps to become active themselves.
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