Kristallnacht or ‘night of broken glass’, commemorated each year, is the signal event of the beginning of the Shoah, or Holocaust. It began on the evening of 9 November 1938 when the German Government unleashed a pogrom against the Jews, burning down synogogues and smashing the glass fronts of Jewish shops in Berlin and all large cities in Germany, Austria and Sudetenland. The pogrom was allegedly in retaliation for the assassination of a German diplomat at the German Embassy in Paris, by a 17-year old Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan.
CCJWA is the only organisation within the Perth metropolitan area that hosts an annual public event commemorating Kristllnacht, on or near the anniversary, 9-10 November. Since 2007 the event has been aimed particularly at attracting secondary school students, especially those studying Year 11 History, as the Shoah is included in the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum. CCJWA specifically invites participation from a large number of schools, both government and private. Students take part in choirs, instrumental ensembles, in dramas, as soloists and as readers of poetry, scripture and Shoah survivors’ testimonies.
The event has twice been held in the Government House Ballroom – in 2008 and 2013, for the 70th and 75th anniversaries. Since 2007, The Hon. Dr Ken Michael AC, The Hon. Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, The Hon. Kerry Sanderson AC, and The Hon. Kim Beazley AC – as the Patron of CCJWA during their terms as Governor – have all participated in the Commemoration. Guest speakers have included many dignitaries, such as Rabbi David Freilich OAM, Shoah survivor Ken Arkwright OAM, former U.S. Consul General Dr Kenneth Chern, The Hon. Kevin Parker AC RFD QC and Justice James Edelman.
These annual remembrances of Kristallnacht are well received, with an attendance of usually 200 or more, and in 2008, over 400. The annual commemoration is an important occasion for bringing to the forefront of our minds the devastation wrought by religious intolerance. Working by means of education and dialogue to prevent a similar recurrence, is the fundamental task of CCJWA.