A Statement on this Remembrance and Kristallnacht Anniversary Weekend

9 November 2018

This weekend is one of remembrance. On Sunday, the centenary of the Armistice, we will hold two minutes silence and pay tribute to the fallen in not only the First World War but also all subsequent wars that have kept us free from tyranny. Whilst our focus has rightly this year been on the so-called ‘war to end all wars’ we will not overlook those other faithful and dutiful souls who have paid a great price for our freedom. Every hamlet, village, town and city across our island nations will be linked to communities elsewhere in our world in remembering the cost of human conflict.

 

Having grown up in close proximity to the largest German military cemetery in Britain I try to be mindful of the complexities surrounding the failures of diplomacy and also the manipulations of entire populations that have led, and to this day may still lead, to conflagration.

 

Tonight, Friday 9th November, is also the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night when synagogues were burnt and lives lost. The world should not have been left in any doubt as to the vulnerability of the Jewish communities under the Nazi regime, but many chose to ignore the warning signs. We will remorsefully pray for our nearest faith neighbours as they remember the pogrom that led to the near total destruction of European Jewry. We should also pray for those in fear of the recurring rise of antisemitism in our own time.

 

We must never forget that the First World War began with an assassination on a Sarajevo Street and the Holocaust with boycotts and broken windows. As we stand in silence over this weekend we will remember the past and the sacrifices that were made. But afterwards we should set further time aside to reflect upon the present and consider where our words, our seemingly insignificant actions and blind indifference can lead. To stem the flow of blood and put a stop to the violence that has assaulted our human dignity over the centuries, we must exercise greater caution when choosing to comment about others and seek to cease from taking sides before we know the full facts.

 

In an age when hate speech is on the rise, populism is gripping the world of politics and extremism pits family member against family member and neighbour against neighbour, we should seriously consider courageous resistance to avoid repeating past mistakes before unrestrained evil is again unleashed upon the nations.

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