It was on this day in 1938 that the Nazi pogrom, later known as Kristallnacht or the “Night of Broken Glass,” took place throughout Germany and Austria. This event was precipitated by the murder of a German Embassy official in Paris at the hands of a Polish born Jew. Looking at the severity and extensiveness of the attack that was carried out against Jewish people, it’s obvious that the murder in Paris was simply an excuse to incite and launch this assault on innocent people.
During those two days in 1938, there were over 7,000 Jewish businesses and homes destroyed. Over a thousand synagogues were destroyed, 95 of them in Vienna, Austria, alone. Ninety-one Jews were killed, some of them beaten to death in the streets while people looked on. Tens of thousands were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. Observing this firsthand was a British correspondent who wrote in the Daily Telegraph:
“Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening as hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle class mothers held up their babies to see the ‘fun.’”
This is what happens when people allow wicked men to rule their lives and plant thoughts in their minds. Otherwise reasonable people turn into hateful, vengeful monsters who seek retribution against those they deem to be “evil” troublemakers. Unfortunately, the Night of Broken Glass was just the beginning of what would become known as the Holocaust.
Consider what happened then and compare it to things that are going on in our world today. Here’s the formula: antagonistic leaders who loathe a select group of people they consider to be the enemy. These leaders plant seeds of thought in people’s minds, coerce situations, manipulate events, and then use a crisis – perhaps a murder – to exploit certain people in an effort to advance their own agenda. That’s what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and, in some ways, it is happening now. In fact, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that history will repeat itself.
Currently, things may not be as bad as they were on Kristallnacht, but it’s not wise to take the position that “It could never happen here.” Actually it could happen here. We already have those with a mob mentality who use situations as an excuse to loot, riot and employ violence to strike against those they view as the enemy. As political tensions continue to escalate, it is possible that people, who might otherwise be reasonable, would quickly turn into vengeful, hate-filled monsters, seeking to harm those the deem as “evil.”
What are we to do? We are to continue doing what we have been called to do all along – be witnesses of the Messiah in spite of the darkness in this world. That doesn’t mean that those who work in darkness and advance evil are just going to roll over and go away. Unfortunately, they’ll continue to do what they do best but that is all the more reason we should continue to do what is best – return good for evil and exhibit light to those in darkness.
As spiritual darkness descends upon the world, we are reminded of how the Messiah described the days just before His return. He said it would be as “the days of Noah, when men were eating, drinking and marrying.” The Bible also described this time as one when “violence filled the earth.” Frankly, that’s what believers should expect to see more and more. Nevertheless, like Noah, we are to be preachers of righteousness who walk with God undefiled by the evils of this generation. That is what we must do.
Be encouraged and remember the faithfulness of our God. Shalom.