A silent march through Groningen in the Netherlands to remember “Kristallnacht” will not be held this year amid concerns regarding the Palestine-Israel situation in the Middle East.
The commemoration marking the 1938 incident known as Kristallnacht in which Nazis in Germany torched synagogues and vandalised Jewish homes, normally consists of two parts; a silent march through Groningen followed by a reading in its synagogue, poetry and music.
This year, the synagogue has scrapped the march planned for November 5 and will only hold a memorial meeting inside.
“We want to avoid people mistaking this silent march for a demonstration, which is exactly what it is not,” Geert Volders, the director of the Folkingestraat Synagoge that organises the event, told Dutch media.
“We do not think it is responsible in this [time of] extreme polarisation and emotion to ask volunteers to manage this silent march. We don’t think that is appropriate now.”
The decision not to hold the silent march was not in response to any direct threats, he said. “We have no indication that anything was going to happen, but we don’t want to take a risk and therefore decided to cancel the march,” Volders said.
Elsewhere, a lecture at Memorial Centre Camp Westerbork in the village of Hooghalen has been cancelled due to potential threats. On October 29, it was set to feature speeches by two people who survived the Yezidi genocide and the Holocaust, respectively, but a “strong safety risk” has led to it being shelved.
Both speakers, Wahhab Hassoo and Emmy Drop-Menko often give lectures together. The cancellation comes as a blow to Hassoo. “I never, truly never thought I would experience this in the Netherlands, a painful reality,” he said.
— Wahhab Hassoo وهاب حسو (@WahhabHassoo) October 23, 2023
The celebration of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah at the nearby Bourtange village on December 12 might also face problems. The organisers are in discussions with local police to determine if it should go ahead.
Kristallnacht or the “Night of Broken Glass”, also called the “November pogroms”, was a violent riot in 1938 organised by Nazi paramilitary forces, aimed at Jewish people.
Many Jews were attacked and killed. Early reports estimated that 91 were murdered but the number is deaths was probably much higher. Jewish homes, hospitals and schools were also destroyed as well as more than 7,000 Jewish businesses.
The Kristallnacht outrage is viewed as the prelude to far larger Nazi crimes against humanity that happened later, including the “Final Solution” and the murder of six million Jews.