Churban Europe: The Annihilation of European Jewry
Churban Europe: The Annihilation of European Jewry
December 31 / January 1, 1900 – midnight over the world
In the streets people are dancing, singing, welcoming the new century.
The new world
A world of science and technology, of art, music, literature
A world of manners and culture.
A new world
To be without war – with peace forever.
The new world of the rational man, the enlightened man
The man who can probe the secrets of the universe
Who can solve all the problems that beset the old century
The man of brilliance, power, charisma.
The new world
And, so, it would be
The new world of the barbarian
Of darkness and destruction
Of evil bubbling under a mannerly facade
Of rage and hatred waiting to erupt
Into a conflagration designed to kill every Jew in the world.
The Jew in the new century
Most were buffeted about by the winds of change
By storms of hatred
At the mercy of merciless rulers.
Some found life, truth, power by clinging to the Torah, to G-d;
Too many found the facade of power by joining the gentile world
By casting Torah and G-d into the dustbin.
For the Torah Jew existential strength and dignity;
For the Jew without Torah, without G-d, emptiness, a starving soul
The frantic chase after glitter that is not gold.
August, 1914 – November, 1919
The First World War – “the war to end all wars”
Spawned by the race for armaments
During enlightened conversations about lasting peace among enemies.
The war of the trenches, of attrition
The loss of a generation of young men
The loss of dreams.
At the end, the League of Nations
The tool developed in the Treaty of Versailles to secure peace.
A source of derision and disdain among the barbarians.
At the end, the intensification of Jew hatred
The traitor, the moneygrubber, the cause of the world’s misery.
1921: the formation of the Nationalist Socialist Workers Party (Nazi)
The rise of Adolph Hitler
The unsuccessful house painter
The Postal Office Clerk
The corporal, wounded fighting for The Fatherland
Evil incarnate dedicated to the annihilation of the Jews.
The charismatic leader of perverts, murderers, common criminals
Of bankers, industrialists, educators, students, the church.
The mannerly culture of evil
The partnership of barbarians to kill Jews.
1928 until the advent of war: the Great Depression
The anguish of a world economy in a shambles.
The whisper that became a roar:
The Jews – they did it
The Jews – they control the world economy
The Jews – hate them, destroy them before they destroy us.
January 30, 1933: Hitler became the German Reich Chancellor
His program intact:
Abrogate the Treaty of Versailles
Destroy the Jews
Achieve full employment
A resilient economy
Based on war.
And, so it was that
The catastrophic Churban
Began in that very place
Where Jews said “Berlin is Yerushalyim”
And, in saying thus, discarded the Torah,
The horrific Churban began
Not in Eastern Europe
Where Jews looked like Jews
With payos, beards, black hats, black suits.
But in Germany where Jews thought they were Germans
Looked like Germans
And Germans knew they were Jews.
Establishment of Dachau, the first of many concentration camps
Outbreak of rioting and atrocities against Jews
Establishment of the Gestapo
Public burning of Jewish books
Laws to legally define, ostracize, and pauperize the Jews
Laws to destroy Torah, Judaism, the Jewish people.
Withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations.
The western nations sat and watched quietly as the world began to crumble.
And so on and on the world marched to war and catastrophe.
September 29-30, 1938 - Munich Conference
The destruction of Czechoslovakia
Betrayal followed betrayal
Appeasement followed appeasement.
The Jews, helpless victims, with no place to run, no place to hide
The Jews were expendable, their destruction marked by the world in silent assent.
November 9-10, 1938 – Kristallnacht – Germany and Austria
300, 000 Jews arrested
Unknown number of Jews murdered
191 synagogues destroyed
7,500 Jewish shops.
Jewish community required to pay one billion marks as compensation for damages.
The beginning of the end for European Jewry
Some few Jews escaped; most could not.
September 1, 1939 – German invasion of Poland
September 3, 1939 – England and France declared war on Germany
Europe is plunged into darkness
The maelstrom into which European Jewry is plunged and murdered
The process of killing all Jews refined in Poland
The assimilated Jew along with his brother, the Torah Jew
The yellow star
A paroxysm of cruelty, sadism, torture
Concentration camps – extermination camps
For most, the pain-filled path to death
For many, the pain-filled path to greatness, to heroism, to Kiddush Hashem.
April 9, 1940 – Germany occupied Denmark and Norway
1940 – Germany conquered The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Belguim,
June 22, 1940 – Germany conquered France
1941 –Germany conquered Yugoslavia and Greece
June 22, 1941 – Germany attacked its ally Russia and marched into its heartland
Millions of Jews fall under the Nazi yoke
Six million innocent Jews are ultimately slaughtered in unspeakably evil ways
By the most cultured, advanced nation in the world
As the free world watched in silent assent.
December 7, 1941 – America entered the war
November 2, 1942 – Germany defeated at El Alamein
January, 1943 – Germany defeated outside of Stalingrad
July 1943 – Allies invaded Sicily and marched toward Rome
March 19, 1944 – Germany invaded its ally, Hungary, for not killing enough Jews
June 6, 1944 – Allies invaded Normandy and marched toward Germany
The tide of war turned against the Nazis
Yet, the trains, the cattle cars, loaded with Jews rolled on and on
Picking up Jews in ghetto transit camps
Rather than carrying war materials to the front.
Carrying Jews to death or slave labor – quick death or slow death or survival
In the killing camps.
The trains rolled on and on and on
As Torah Jews exhibited countless, unbelievable acts of Kiddush Hashem
Sanctification of life and dignity in death
The ultimate resistance.
The nobility of the Jew
The greatness of the Jew.
As Torah Jews frantically tried to save Jews, any Jew
Alone, unaided, maligned
Sometimes they succeeded
But never as much as they hoped and dreamed.
And, then, wounded, in pain, broken, but undaunted
Torah Jews rebuilt the world of Torah
In Eretz Yisroel, America, England, Canada, South Africa, Australia.
A new world of Torah
Rising from the ashes of our holy dead
Of our holy survivors
Our mothers and fathers
Those great Jews
Who clung to Torah, to G-d,
Even in the depths of hell.
April 30, 1945 – Hitler committed suicide in his bunker
Commanding his people to continue killing Jews.
May 8, 1945 – Germany surrendered.
September 2, 1945 – Japan surrendered.
The war is over.
European Jewry is gone.
But Am Yisroel Chai – the promise of G-d fulfilled
His Jewish nation will live forever
Clinging to His gift
The Torah that He has given each of us
His treasured children
His beloved servants
To build a new world of light, of Torah.
An interim world built to welcome the Mashiach
Bringing the eternal world of peace, justice, truth
Copyright 2004, Hinde Gordon
Mrs. Gordon is a Guest Lecturer at EYAHT. Her annual course on the Holocaust is called "Churban Europe 1933-1945/6 and the Years Leading Up to the Annihilation of European Jewry." For more information, contact Mrs. Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.