"FROM COMPASSION TO ACTION" 2016: Our Mission Continues

November 9, 2016


Today, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht - the 'Night of Broken Glass'  - we are in Berlin. A pogrom in 1938 against the Jews in Nazi Germany, Kristallnacht is widely accepted as the first step in the genocidal process that led to the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust.

On this mission, in which memory plays such a central role, our Canadian delegation recalls a time when our country shunned Jewish refugees hoping to escape deportation to concentration camps. This memory makes Canada's support for Israel in the face of overwhelming antisemitic bias at the UN this week all the more poignant, particularly as we walk the hallowed grounds where the Jewish people were so brutally destroyed.

Case in point: yesterday our Compassion to Action group left Krakow for Berlin to tour Wannsee Conference House - the beautiful villa where high-ranking members of the SS, the police force, the government administration and the Nazi party  met to discuss the "Final Solution to the Jewish question." We also visited Track 17 - Grunewald Station - the point of deportation for many of Berlin's Jewish population and which, from 1942 on, led to Auschwitz-Birkenau or Theresienstatdt concentration camps.

Today we will tour Sachsenhausen - a concentration camp that became a training ground for the SS. We will also participate in a walking tour to learn about the Jewish history of Berlin, and stop at Bebelplatz - the site of the infamous May 1933 book burnings. Finally, we will visit several museums and memorials, and look forward to viewing the stolperstein - the "stumbling stones" which memorialize victims of the Holocaust outside of their former homes, identifying their names and life dates.

On this daunting journey we remain haunted by the faces of children whose photos are all that remain to remind us of their abbreviated lives.

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