Darker Than a Thousand Pogroms: Kristallnacht and its Long Shadow
By Robert Leonard Berkowitz
The word pogrom in Russian and Yiddish means “devastation.”
It derives from a Russian word that means to destroy, to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.
Historically, it is mostly associated with violent outbursts against Jews that began in the 1880s and continued in sporadic waves over the five decades that followed.
Those pogroms occurred mostly in Russia, the Ukraine and Poland where the overwhelming majority of world Jewry resided.
They are mostly named after cities where they burst on to the scene — names like Warsaw, Kiev, Kishinev, Odessa, Bialystok, Lwow, and Kielce — and where they wrought the greatest destruction to life and property.
Those pogroms are pretty much unfamiliar to all but students of history. They have, proverbially, fallen into the historical dustbin.
One pogrom stands worlds apart.
It occurred in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Austria in November 1938, where a fraction (4%) of world Jewry lived.
It is named Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass, after the shards of broken glass of Jewish store front windows that littered the streets and sidewalks of countless cities, towns and villages.
And it is remembered (although not nearly enough) because it alone of all pogroms is commemorated each year, from November 9th when it broke out until November 12th when it finally played itself out.
What makes Kristallnacht stand apart from all other modern-day pogroms?
First, Kristallnacht was the most devastating of all pogroms.
More than a thousand synagogues — the center of Jewish religious and social life — were partially or fully destroyed. Torched, bombed, sledge-hammered, and pillaged, they were turned into uninhabitable architectural corpses.
Roughly seventy-five hundred businesses — the mainstay of Jewish economic life — were attacked and shuttered. Storefronts were reduced to rubble, interiors wrecked, and shelves cleared of merchandise.
Countless Jewish residences, schools, hospitals, and homes for the aged, the poor, the infirm and the orphaned were ransacked and made unlivable.
Not even the sanctuaries of the dead were spared. Scores of Jewish cemeteries were desecrated, and tombstones uprooted.
An estimated thirty thousand Jewish men — roughly one-quarter of all Jewish men living in Germany and Austria — were rounded-up and incarcerated.
Almost all were deported to newly, expanded concentration camps, such as Buchenwald, Dachau and Sachsenhausen, where inmates were regularly beaten with truncheons, spades and whips, and worked to death under the most grueling conditions.
The official murder count was ninety-one, but if death from suicides, heart attacks, the brutalities of life in the camps, and the deprivations of life essentials such as medical care for the frail, the infirm and the aged are figured in, the death toll was infinitely higher.
Kristallnacht’s geographic breadth was unparalleled. It clawed into more than a thousand cities and towns– even villages where only a handful of Jews lived.
The cruelty was unbounded. Mothers, fathers, and children were dragged from their homes. They were battered, assaulted, bludgeoned, humiliated, and tormented. Families were evicted from their residences, children from orphanages, patients from hospitals, and the elderly from old- age homes.
Kristallnacht destroyed any pretense of sustainable life for the remaining seven hundred thousand Jews in Germany and Austria. Which was its intent.
There is a book with the title Brighter than a Thousand Suns. I read it as a seventeen-year old. It was required reading for freshman orientation at Rutgers University. The book is about the making of the atomic bomb during World War II. The title is loosely borrowed from a line in the Hindu epic Bhagavad Gita that purportedly flashed across the mind of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the A-bomb, when it exploded for the first time over New Mexico. The stanza in which that line appears ends with the words, “I am become Death, The shatterer of worlds.” Oppenheimer was said to have uttered those words at the time, presumably after the debris-filled mushroom cloud spread like a shroud over the vast New Mexican desert sky.
One can only begin to imagine what it must have been like for Jews to witness the hundreds of roaring flames rising up from burning wood-framed synagogues and the multitude of bonfires of altar cloths, Arks, Torah scrolls, sanctuary benches, and religious artifacts illuminating the Berlin and Vienna skies.
One rabbi, whose synagogue was ablaze in flames, was surprised how bright the Berlin sky appeared at two in the morning.
When I look at photographic images of dark plumes of smoke billowing up from those synagogues, I am reminded of those haunting words from the Bhagavad Gita.
If Kristallnacht was not a holocaust given the destruction and death it wrought, it was certainly a “shatterer of worlds” for German and Austrian Jewry. By that measure, it was darker than a thousand pogroms.
Second, Kristallnacht was by far the most orchestrated of all pogroms.
Despite elements of spontaneity and improvisation it was guided and incited by the Nazi state apparatus from the moment word got out that the seventeen-year old Polish Jew, Herschel Grynszpan, critically injured Nazi diplomat Ernst Vom Rath at the German embassy in Paris on November 7th.
Although there was no evidence, then or since, that Grynszpan acted other than on his own, the Nazi propaganda machine blamed an international Jewish conspiracy.
The Nazis then exploited that lie to whip up a combustible brew of hate, rage and vengeance against every Jew living in their midst.
When two days later, on November 9, Vom Rath was pronounced dead Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, urged Hitler to “unleash the wrath of the people” Hitler blithely agreed to let them “have their fling.”
The “them” were the Nazi Stormtroopers and rabid Nazi Party members.
And so, instructions went out and the “fling began” that launched one of the greatest terrorist attacks in modern times — one purposefully designed to drive an entire, innocent and peaceable ethno-religious population beyond its newly expanded borders.
Third, Kristallnacht was by far the most popularly embraced of all pogroms.
Participation extended well beyond the Gestapo and Nazi party members.
Ordinary citizens from all walks of life including teachers, school children, shopkeepers, professionals, members of youth organization, business people, neighbors, and housewives, joined in the smashing, ransacking, looting, terrorizing and humiliating.
Many more cheered them on. A Berlin reporter for London’s Daily Telegraph described “fashionably dressed women clapping their hands with glee while respectable middle-class mothers held their babies up to see the ‘fun’.”
And even more neighbors passively went along, including those who took umbrage at its excesses, especially the destruction of physical property that besmirched their community and inconvenienced their daily routines.
To borrow and extend the phrase, “it takes a village,” Kristallnacht “took a nation.”
Fourth, Kristallnacht was the most unsettling of all pogroms.
What made it so unnervingly so (and still does) was that it was carried out by a highly civilized and cultured nation — one that had given the world Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Goethe, Heine and Einstein.
Reinhard Heydrich who, as head of the SS, ordered the Kristallnacht mass roundups and deportations, was the son of a composer and opera singer. His father was the founder of a renowned conservatory of music.
Kristallnacht’s greatest destruction occurred in Berlin and Vienna — cities populated by the most cultured and educated citizens on the European continent. These were urban centers that represented the apotheosis of the age of enlightenment, and the democratic awakening in the aftermath of the American and French revolutions.
The depth of descent from a society so civilized and cultured into one so barbarous and depraved had no parallel in any prior pogrom.
Fifth, Kristallnacht was the most consequential of all pogroms.
“Everything has changed,” one witness who lived through it all poignantly observed.
The beast lurking in the hearts and souls of rabid party members and sympathizers was fully unleashed.
All vestiges of moral and ethical constraints that had been held tenuously in check for the previous five plus years since the Nazis came to power were swept away.
Physical violence in the service of vicious and savage hate against a minority group solely because of its faith and ethnicity was sanctioned, justified, and normalized.
Whatever moral compass had still guided the general populace was fully shattered.
Those dwindling few who felt shame and shed a few tears for their neighbors were emotionally anesthetized.
Whatever urge to condemn and will to resist that remained among the withering ranks of audacious souls was washed away by the pandemic of madness that infected their schools, places of worship, youth centers, coffee houses and civic organizations.
The Nazi leadership now had a completely free hand to fully rid Germany of its Jewish population by whatever means it chose.
And it wasted little time in seizing the opportunity.
On November 12 — the day Kristallnacht came to an end — Hitler ordered that the “Jewish Question” be “summed up and coordinated once and for all” and “solved one way or another.”
On the same day, Hitler’s minions instituted actions to strip German Jews of their dwindling assets and to socially isolate them — steps designed to lay the groundwork for forced and wholesale emigration.
Two months later Hitler tasked Heydrich with “promoting emigration of the Jews from Germany by all means.”
Five days later Hitler went before the Reichstag (Germany’s Parliament) on the sixth anniversary of his assumption of Chancellorship and reminded its members, that during his struggle for power he had promised to “settle the Jewish problem.”
He then offered up another prophesy, predicting that if war comes, a war we now know he was already planning, it would result in “the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”
Although plans for the Final Solution were still three years in the offing, it was now a giant step closer to becoming thinkable, imaginable and plausible.
Sixth, Kristallnacht was the most tragic of all pogroms.
What makes Kristallnacht so tragic beyond its tragic ramifications is that it didn’t have to happen.
What if the democracies of the world, including England, Canada, France and the United States had forcefully stood-up to Hitler after the occupation of Austria the previous March and the brutal Vienna pogroms that followed in its wake, instead of voicing lame protests?
What if they heeded the cry of the multitude of Jewish refugees desperately clamoring for asylum when they convened the Evian international refugee conference the previous June, instead of ignoring it by refusing to raise their collectively-meager immigration quotas?
What if they defied Hitler at the Munich Conference the prior September, instead of ceding him a large slice of the Czechoslovakian Republic?
And what if they stood-up to him after the PolenAktion — that mass round-up and expulsion of an estimated twelve-thousand Polish-born Jews living in Germany and Nazi-occupied Austria that occurred just a few, short weeks before Kristallnacht, instead of displaying a shameful indifference?
Had the many democracies of the world taken all, or even most, of those actions, and done so with a genuine sense of urgency and forcefulness, two things can be said with a fair degree of confidence:
Hitler would have been far less emboldened to “let them have their fling” and Herschel Grynszpan would have been far less disposed to even entertain the thought of committing such a deluded and ill-conceived act of protest that gave Hitler his pretext for Kristallnacht.
Herschel’s own personal story highlights the real tragedy of Kristallnacht and just how different history might have turned out had the democracies acted with courage, conscience and foresight.
When seventeen-year old Herschel walked into the German Embassy on November 7th, in his possession were two handwritten postcards.
The first was from his sister Esther received four days earlier on November 3rd. From the hurriedly-written postcard, Herschel learned that on October 27th his mother, father and two siblings had been visited by the Gestapo, taken to police headquarters, issued expulsion papers, and forthwith ordered out of the country. Esther concluded her distressing note with the ominous words “…everything was finished for us.”
Though sparing her younger brother the horrific details of what had transpired, it took little imagination for Herschel to fill them in. The trials and tribulations of Herschel’s family, and thousands of Polish-born citizens living in Germany that were rounded-up on that black day of October 27th, blanketed the front-pages of every major newspaper in Paris, London and New York in what has come to be known as the PolenAktion.
The New York Times described the PolenAktion as “possibly the greatest mass deportation of recent times.”
In dragnet-style raids, thousands of men, women, children, the elderly and infirm, were seized at homes and workplaces, hauled into police stations, and forced to sign deportation papers.
Wives and children wept as husbands were herded into vans and special “slow moving” trains. Like “sheep corralled for slaughter,” is the way The Times described the scene.
Exhausted, hungry, near penniless, and with little more than a suitcase of personal belongings when they arrived at the border, deportees were assembled by SS frontier-guards armed with fixed bayonets, machine guns and whips.
The border-crossing was more harrowing. Many waded in ankle-deep water in ditches. Women were made to run across open fields for a half-hour. Bones were broken. Elderly people collapsed under the weight of their suitcases. Those who faltered were whip lashed, jabbed with bayonets, or just trampled, including Herschel’s father Zyndel. Some died of exhaustion, exposure, and stress. Others took their own lives. Hundreds suffered injuries that required hospitalization.
Hershel was known to be a voracious reader of the news and undoubtedly followed the coverage of the PolenAktion in all its lurid and haunting details.
His own plight was not a whole lot better than that of his family. He was living a bleak and perilous life in Paris as a stateless Jew.
At the time Herschel began plotting the assassination he was an illegal alien hiding out in a garret above his Uncle Abraham’s apartment in Paris.
He had fled Nazi German in the aftermath of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws — decrees that stripped Jews of their citizenship — and smuggled his way into France. Denied a residency permit, he had been served expulsion papers and was subject to arrest and deportation unless he left France voluntarily.
Leaving voluntarily was not an option for a number of reasons:
- Germany, his country of birth, was out of the question as a result of the PolenAktion;
- Poland, his country of citizenship, and where his grandparents still lived, was equally off limits. The increasingly anti-Semitic Polish government with its dark history of pogroms was on record proclaiming its wish to be rid of its 3.5 million “surplus” Jewish residents. Not surprisingly, it no longer welcomed non-resident Jewish citizens across its borders, having recently enacted a decree depriving them of their Polish citizenship. Herschel’s Polish passport was no longer valid;
- The United States was also beyond the reach for an impoverished teenager who had been stripped of legal citizenship and had no relatives in America to provide affidavits of support. A personal letter he had previously sent off to President Roosevelt begging for an entry visa had gone unanswered;
- Canada was no exception with its highly restrictive immigration policy, and one that was administered by bureaucrats known to be highly unsympathetic to the plight of Jews and;
- Palestine was little more than a distant dream where the waiting line to emigrate stretched from Paris to Tel Aviv.
In short, all sanctuaries were closed to Herschel. He could neither stay in nor leave France. Herschel was living a Kafkaesque nightmare.
One can only imagine what went through the mind of this stateless, homeless teenager hiding out in some god forsaken-garret, wondering when he would get that dreaded knock on the door from French immigration authorities ordering his expulsion, and fearing the worst about the fate of his family.
Esther’s ominous-sounding words that “everything was finished for us” had to have shaken Herschel to the core. By the time he made up his mind to walk into the German embassy in Paris with a loaded handgun to execute his mission of protest, he very likely concluded that everything was finished for him as well as his family.
The second postcard in Herschel’s possession was written by Herschel. It was a plea of forgiveness to his parents and a cry of protest to the world to awaken to the tragedy befalling the Jewish people. It read:
With God’s help. My dear parents, I couldn’t do otherwise. God must forgive me. My heart bleeds when I think of our tragedy and that of the 12,000 Jews. I have to protest in a way that the whole world hears my protest, and I intend to do. I beg your forgiveness.
Sadly, it was Hitler who heard Herschel’s protest, not his intended audience.
What makes Kristallnacht so much more tragic and catastrophically consequential is even in its aftermath the democracies of the world failed to awaken from their collective, moral slumber.
Unlike the “Final Solution,” which was hidden from public view until well underway, Kristallnacht was brazenly carried out in the open. It was more widely covered than any event befalling the Jews during the entire Nazi era. There was no excuse not to act — no “if only we knew” defense.
Admittedly, there were outcries of condemnation, and the U.S. did recall its ambassador from Germany in protest.
However, not one democratic nation broke off diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany nor levied economic sanctions, not even after Hitler plowed into the remainder of Czechoslovakia four months later and proclaimed it the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
And despite expressions of deep and widespread sympathy for its victims, immigration restrictions remained as tight as ever for the vast majority of the swelling numbers of refugees desperately seeking to escape Germany and Austria and, increasingly, Poland.
On November 15th, FDR opened a press conference by stating, “the news of the last few days from Germany has deeply shocked public opinion in the United States.”
However, the shock was not great enough to shake the American public out of its callous indifference. In a Gallup Public Opinion poll conducted the following January, those surveyed were asked:
“It has been proposed to bring to this country 10,000 refugee children from Germany — most of them Jewish- to be taken care of in American homes. Should the government permit these children to come in?”
Sixty-one percent said no. In a Fortune poll conducted in April, eighty-three percent of those surveyed opposed any increase in immigration quotas.
Helping to shape and amplify anti-immigration and anti-Semitic sentiment was, among others, radio talk show host Father Charles Coughlin who ranted to his thirty million listeners about “sending Jews back where they came from in leaky boats.” Beginning in November 1938, in the midst of Kristallnacht, Coughlin’s speeches were broadcast over forty-seven radio stations and covered in his widely-read Social Justice Magazine.
The U.S. Congress duly read the political winds. In June, a bill that would have temporarily given those children asylum never made it out of congressional committee
The same month more than nine-hundred Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany were on the steamship St. Louis, anchored off the coastal waters of Florida. Despite having exit visas and, in most cases, affidavits of support from U.S. citizens, immigration authorities denied them asylum on the grounds that quotas were filled for the year.
The Canadian government was equally unmoved, refusing a request to admit the ship’s passengers.
Though the St. Louis did not leak and sink on its return to Germany, as Father Coughlin would have wished, more than two hundred and fifty of its passengers would perish in the Holocaust.
For a steamship named after a saint, it was sad reminder of hypocrisy born of bigotry, fear, and ignorance.
In England, despite offering temporary asylum to ten thousand children, a number of whom were orphaned by Kristallnacht, the government of Neville Chamberlain, the architect of the Munich Agreement, issued a British White Paper that all but slammed shut the door to immigration to the Yishuv in Palestine — the one destination where Jewish refugees were still welcomed. That was one way to end the long waiting list to Tel Aviv.
Emboldened by the meek and equivocating response of the democracies of the world to the horrors of Kristallnacht, the pleas of its victims for help, and the Nazi lust for land, Hitler now believed he had a free hand abroad as well as at home.
So, on September 1st Hitler invaded Poland with its three-and-a-half million Jews. With no outlet for escape, the vast majority of them, including those who had survived the PolenAktion deportation, would meet their final destination in the killing centers of Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmo, Sobibor, and Treblinka. In the case of Herschel’s sister Esther, her final destination would be one of the many mass grave pits in Eastern Poland, a victim of what has come to be known as the “Holocaust by Bullets.”
History rarely if ever repeats itself, but it often rhymes.
Forst, Germany is a village just southeast of Berlin near the Polish border. In the nineteen thirties the Jewish residents of that town numbered about two hundred. In the PolenAktion, nineteen of its citizens were rounded up and deported to Poland. Two weeks later, during Kristallnacht, Nazi militia and vigilantes ransacked and demolished Jewish homes. The religious artifacts of the village’s only synagogue were set ablaze on the town square in front of Nazi Party paramilitary headquarters. The synagogue was razed. Jews were beaten, thirty-one were arrested and twenty-two deported to Sachsenhausen. Within a week all Jewish businesses were eliminated. Within a year only fifty Jews were left in the village. Unable to find safe haven abroad, almost all were deported to Nazi-occupied Poland and perished in one of the killing centers.
One of the few bright stories of the tragedy of the Forst Jewish community is that one of its surviving members, Jacob Weinblum, had managed to rescue the Torah Scroll from its synagogue before all its artifacts were set afire.
Nearly four decades later that orphaned, sacred parchment would find a new home in the Ark of The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
October 27, 2018 was the 80th anniversary of the PolenAktion. On that day a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi entered the adopted home of the Forst Torah Scroll and indiscriminately gunned down eleven sabbath worshipers. It was the deadliest attack on the American Jewish community in history.
Shortly before the assailant invaded the Pittsburgh synagogue, he made two posts:
- The first read, “Why Hello there HIAS. You like bringing hostile murderers to dwell among us.”
- The second, posted within hours of the mass murder read “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw the optics. I’m coming in.”
Both posts refer to HIAS. Founded in 1881 initially to help Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia, it played an oversized role in the rescue and resettlement of Jewish refugee who were victims of Nazi persecution.
More recently, HIAS has become the international arm of the American Jewish community that helps rescue and resettle refugees and other displaced people of all backgrounds who are victims of persecution and violence. One of its many initiatives, in what has become the greatest worldwide refugee crisis since the 1930s, has been to assist refugees at our southern border and helping them start a new life in the Americas.
The “murderers” and “invaders,” whom the murderous and invading assailant had the audacity to call them, were violence-fleeing Hondurans, Guatemalans, and El Salvadoran migrants.
Those refugees made up the caravan that an unnamed “America First” president claimed to be infested with criminals and terrorists — a claim that may well have found a nesting place in the twisted and warped mind of the Tree of Life mass murderer.
It was a claim as unproven, xenophobic and bigoted as that made by Father Coughlin and his ilk about Jewish refugees seeking a safe-haven in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, and shamefully made to justify the separation of asylum-seeking children from their parents and placement in unfit-for-human detention centers.
Less than a year later, on Yom Kippur, the Holiest of Holy Days in the Jewish calendar, a far-right anti-Semite and anti-Muslim neo-Nazi attempted to break into a synagogue in Halle, Germany and repeat the Tree of Life synagogue massacre. He did not succeed, though he would go on to kill two random bystanders in a fit of frustration and rage over his failed mission.
During Kristallnacht that synagogue’s precursor had been largely destroyed, nearby homes burned down, stores and homes looted and adult men rounded up and deported to Buchenwald.
The city of Halle is the birthplace of Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SS. Heydrich oversaw the PolenAktion, ordered the mass round-ups and deportations during Kristallnacht, directed the killing units that executed the “Holocaust by Bullets” that took more than two million lives, and orchestrated the Final Solution.
The secretive plan to exterminate three-and-a-half-million Polish Jews was deservedly code-named Operation Reinhard.
Many of the thirteen hundred Jews of Halle who had survived Kristallnacht perished in the Holocaust. To memorialize them “witness stones” have been placed on the sidewalks in front of what had been their homes. More than a few were Heydrich’s childhood neighbors.
Halle is also located near the state of Thuringia where the far-right Alternative for Germany Party won twenty-three percent of the vote in a recent statewide election.
In 2017, its co-leader Bjorn Hocke, who heads the party in the state of Thuringia, said Germans were “the only people in the world to plant a monument of shame in the heart of their capital.” He was referring to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. His co-head, Alexander Garland, has downplayed the Nazi era as a “speck of bird poop.”
Today, the states of Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg, where the town of Forst resides, are hotbeds of neo-Nazism, and breeding grounds for such groups as the burgeoning “Citizens of the Reich” that recently staged a storming of the German Parliament.
More troubling is that the anti-Semitic, racist, and xenophobic views of these fringe groups have been mainstreamed by the Alternative for Germany Party, trafficked heavily across the Atlantic, and found a proud, welcoming home in the backwaters of America.
On the evening of November 9th, 1938 when official word went out to begin the reign of terror that would come to be known as Kristallnacht, the Nazi leadership gathered in Munich to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch.
That 1923 attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic was an abysmal failure. Hitler was thrown in jail. At the time, many viewed Hitler as a clown and his army of six hundred fanatical, and hate-filled Brownshirts as a band of motley and pathetic fools akin to the keystone cops. Neither the Beer Hall Putsch, nor the virulent anti-Semitic manifesto Mein Kampf that Hitler wrote during his nine months in prison, were taken seriously. Both should have been the wake-up calls for the German nation.
Charlotte, Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Jersey City, New Zealand, Poway, El Paso, Halle and Thuringia are our wake-up calls.
The Hebrew word Amidah is a prayer recited when standing.
The word literally means “stand.” I translate it to mean “stand-up,” which my father often had to remind me to do when reciting an Amidah prayer.
The word has come to be associated with acts of courage and compassion such as those exhibited before and after Kristallnacht by among others:
- Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who at great risk to his life protested from his pulpit in Berlin about the metastasizing antisemitism in the years leading up to Kristallnacht;
- The Polish Jewish community and aid societies that provided the victims of the PolenAktion with food, clothing, blankets and medical care, and worked tirelessly to shame the Polish government into finally allowing them to remain within their borders;
- The English Jewish and Quaker rescue and relief organizations that successfully lobbied for the asylum of ten thousand refugee children in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, and assumed their care under the Kindertransport rescue program;
- And HIAS.
If there is one lesson to be learned from Kristallnacht it is the need to stand up well before it is too late:
- Stand up to self-serving demagogues of any nation who cynically stoke the embers of fear, resentment and hate by demonizing and scapegoating religious, ethnic and racial minorities.
- Stand up for democracy before it is too late. It is more fragile than ever and can die in the blink of an eye, as it did in the waning days of the Weimar Republic.
- Stand up to those who spew hate in all its myriad forms by calling them out.
- And stand up for the victims of persecution, discrimination and hate of whatever race, ethnicity and religion.
Kristallnacht is a reminder of what can happen when we don’t.
Robert Leonard Berkowitz is the author of The Long Damn Summer of ’42, 9/11 and the Holocaust, and other essays. They can be found on Medium.com