People look at photos of Holocaust survivors displaying their identification tattoos at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

People look at photos of Holocaust survivors displaying their identification tattoos at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On November 9, 1938, violent mobs attacked Jewish homes and businesses in Germany, Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia.

The pogrom is known as Kristallnacht, or the “night of broken glass.” Nearly 100 Jews were murdered, tens of thousands taken to concentration camps and thousands of synagogues and businesses were destroyed, looted and desecrated.

Eighty years later, anti-Semitic actions are on the rise in the United States. A shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in late October was the most violent incident, but cemeteries have been vandalized, and swastikas painted on community centers. Slurs and conspiratorial whispers spread online.

Sometimes this rhetoric intersects with the mainstream in parts of American politics.

A recent survey found that “many adults lack basic knowledge” of the Holocaust.

In his book Night, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote that “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

The youngest survivors are now in their 70s. As the years since the atrocities of that time pass, and as firsthand survivors grow older, how can the world keep remembering what must never be forgotten?

As Wiesel also wrote: “For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.”

This show was produced in partnership with Smithsonian Magazine. This month’s issue focuses on Holocaust remembrances. You can read the stories here.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is always interested in your family members’ stories. You can reach out to the Museum by emailing curator@ushmm.org or by going to this site.

Show produced by Amanda Williams

Guests

  • Irene "Reni" Butter Holocaust survivor; Author of the memoir "Shores Beyond Shores: From Holocaust To Hope, My True Story" with John Bidwell and Kris Holloway; Professor Emerita of Public Health at the University of Michigan.
  • Alexandra Zapruder Author, “Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust”; guest curator of the exhibition “And Still I Write: Young Diarists on War and Genocide” to open at Holocaust Museum Houston in 2019. @AZapruder
  • Sara Bloomfield Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. @HolocaustMuseum

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