Westminster Abbey in London. RNS photo by Trevor Grundy

At an emotional worship service, considered one of the largest gatherings of Christians and Jews, some 1,600 British men and women filed into Westminster Abbey Sunday (Nov. 10) to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. RNS photo by Trevor Grundy


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) At an emotional worship service, considered one of the largest gatherings of Christians and Jews, some 1,600 British men and women filed into Westminster Abbey Sunday (Nov. 10) to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Also known as the Night of Broken Glass, Kristallnacht was a series of coordinated attacks carried out by Nazi paramilitaries and civilians against Jews throughout Hitler’s Germany and parts of Austria between Nov. 9 and 10, 1938.

More than 90 German Jews were killed and 30,000 more sent to concentration camps.

During the hourlong service, a candelabra from the Belsize Square Synagogue in central London was processed through the abbey where England’s kings and queens are buried.

Choirs from the 10th-century abbey and West London Synagogue sang, and Ann Kirk, a survivor of Kristallnacht, lighted six memorial candles.

“It was moving to see just how far Jews and Christians in Britain have come over the years,” said the Rev. James Hawkey, sacrist at Westminster Abbey. “The service was very much a symbol of the unity between us as we remembered the terrible events of November 1938.”

A boy cleans the street after Kristallnacht in November, 1938.

A boy cleans the street after Kristallnacht in November, 1938. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Julia Neuberger, the senior rabbi of the West London Synagogue, delivered the address. She said Christians and Jews were together on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht to commemorate a message of hope.

“So I want to remember those amazing British diplomats whose actions led to so many of us being here to tell the tale,” she said. “The story is still unfolding. But it is becoming increasingly clear, amongst all the justified criticism of Britain for not taking in more Jewish refugees in the late 1930s, that there was a network of consular and diplomatic officials, good Christians, who helped desperate people well beyond the call of duty.”

She ended saying: ”As we remember the terror, the death and destruction, the loss of parents, family and friends, let us use today, Jews and Christians together, to remember that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. They are why we have an obligation, as ordinary people, to help those others who are in fear of their lives the world over, to get round bureaucracy, to save even one human life. For in our tradition, he who saves a single human life is as if he had saved the whole world.”

YS/AMB END GRUNDY

5 Comments

  1. That’s commendable. Let’s not forget the Armenian pogrom which killed about two million primarily Christian Armenians. Also, let’s remember the current holocaust against Middle East Christians, at least 100,000 a yr. plus the destruction of their churches. Let’s speak out.

    • On a more uplifiting note let us remember the efforts of one British subject who worked tirelessly to bring down the Nazis and save countless lives from the machinery of genocide, Frank Foley
      http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/stories/foley.asp
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Foley

      He was stationed in Berlin from 1922 to 1939 and he used his position as Passport Control Officer at the British embassy to save thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps. From 1935, an ever growing number of Jews appealed to his office in order to obtain immigration visas to Palestine, to the United Kingdom and to all other parts of the then British Empire.

      Defying the Foreign Office, he bent the rules to issue 10,000 visas for British Mandatory Palestine. He did not enjoy diplomatic immunity in Berlin* and was running a serious risk. Had he been exposed by the Nazis, he would have suffered a much worse fate than being persona non grata.

      John Kelley, Foley’s nephew, an Anglican priest said about his uncle: “I believe that God put Frank Foley in Berlin to do His Work. Foley did what he did as a witness to the Christian churches to show what they should have done at that time, but did not do.”

      *He did not enjoy diplomatic immunity because his true purpose at the embassy was as a spymaster. Foley’s network recruited German scientific “assets” to undermine the Nazi regime.

      The civilized world owes Great Britain an immense debt of gratitude for its efforts in 1939-41 as the sole nation during those years which stood between Hitler and total domination of Europe.

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