Scots min­is­ter recorded hor­ror of at­tack on Jews

Church re­veals dossier con­tain­ing ac­counts of pre-war pogrom

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY NEIL DRYS­DALE

It was one of the most shock­ing out­breaks of anti-Semitic vi­o­lence in the build-up to the Sec­ond World War. Now the Church of Scot­land has re­vealed how one of its min­is­ters com­piled a dossier, ex­pos­ing the “depths of hu­man mis­ery” in­flicted on Jewish peo­ple, dur­ing the Ger­man pogrom 80 years ago to­day.

The work has “truth­ful ob­ser­va­tions and trust­wor­thy ac­counts by eye­wit­nesses” to the im­pact of Kristall­nacht, a frenzy of Nazi-or­ches­trated vi­o­lence on Novem­ber 9 and 10 1938.

The name, which trans­lates as Night of Bro­ken Glass, refers to the smashed win­dows of Jewish homes, busi­nesses, hos­pi­tals, schools and syn­a­gogues that were ran­sacked in Ger­many, Aus­tria and else­where.

The typed doc­u­ment was com­piled two months af­ter the event by Rev Don­ald Wil­liam Mackay, who was min­is­ter of the Scots In­ter­na­tional Church in Rot­ter­dam from 1934 to 1940.

Kept in the World Mis­sion Coun­cil ar­chive at the Church of Scot­land of­fices in Ed­in­burgh, it has been made pub­lic for the first time.

In­side are de­tails of the scale of as­saults car­ried out on the Jewish com­mu­nity and the pref­ace states: “What re­ally did hap­pen is worse by far than any­thing de­scribed in th­ese pages”.

Rev Ian Alexan­der, CoS sec­re­tary to the World Mis­sion Coun­cil, said: “It is ex­tra­or­di­nary to un­earth a doc­u­ment that shares first-hand knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence from peo­ple liv­ing through th­ese des­per­ate events. It lays bare the depths of hu­man mis­ery.

“As we live through days when dif­fer­ent faith groups are tar­geted, and those seek­ing asy­lum are in­creas­ingly de­monised, it is a salu­tary les­son of the need to stand along­side those be­ing per­se­cuted.”

Mirella Yan­doli, the church’s in­ter­faith pro­gramme of­fi­cer, said it re­mained es­sen­tial to tackle the blight of anti-Semitism.

“This ar­chive is a timely re­minder, both of what hap­pened 80 years ago and also the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the church to act and draw at­ten­tion to this ha­tred then and now,” she said.

“We need to take this an­niver­sary as an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on how easy it is to fall into the po­si­tion of by­stander and do noth­ing but lament.

“I view it as the church’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­am­ine and chal­lenge anti-Semitism and prej­u­dice in our own or­gan­i­sa­tion and con­tinue to look at how we can call it out in the pub­lic sphere.

“Col­lab­o­rat­ing with other faiths and In­ter­faith Scot­land on the topic of hate speech and crime in the youth or par­ish set­ting, has be­come a key pri­or­ity.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to lis­ten to those af­fected first be­fore we de­cide how we can be an ally.”

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