Monday, 10 November 2008

Thinking of the NS-Progrom

'Thinking of the NS-Progrom in Austria' is the title of a report on page 2 of the popular Austrian tabloid the Kronen Zeitung, a daily paper boasting a readership of 3,000,000 in a land of 8,000,000 souls.
The story, by Dieter Kindermann, is accompanied by a picture of Pope Benedikt XVI. It reads (subject to any unfortunate translation errors by me) as follows:
"Today I still feel the pain of this tragedy," Benedikt XVI said yesterday after Angelus in St. Peter's Square. He was speaking about the Jewish victims of the NS-progrom, cynically called 'the night of broken glass', in Germany and Austria. Yesterday with memorial services and silent marches the churches remembered the inhuman terror of the night of 9/10 November 1938.
In Vienna alone 42 synagogues and prayer houses were set on fire, 30 people were murdered, thousands were deported to concentration camps. Without any scruples the mobs plundered the Jewish shops and homes.
Historians are united. It was with the November progrom that the holocaust began, the systematic extermination of the Jews through the criminal NS regime.
"A terrible, shameful, and tragic event in the history of our land," said President Fischer.


At this time I feel strongly that we should also remember those thousands of anonymous others, many unknown and unsung, who were murdered by the Nazis. People like the poet and professor of theology Roman Karl Scholz, who organized an underground resistance movement with 400 members in Klosterneuburg near Vienna. Unfortunately Scholz and other members were betrayed by Otto Hartmann, a Burgtheater actor and Gestapo spy in 1939.
Scholz, who wrote a book of poems called Ferne Feine Dinge 'Fine Distant Things' (published in 1935) was tried and found guilty along with 8 others of making preparations for high treason. He was incarcerated in 11 different prisons, and doubtless brutally tortured, before being executed by guillotine in 1944. During his time in prison he wrote a novel Goneril and two dramas: Zu Spät 'Too Late' and Männer 'Men'.

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