The diaries of Arnon Grunberg (4)

In the night of 9 to 10 November 1938 throughout Germany Jewish synagogues and shops were rampaged and burnt down by German mobs. My grandparents did not live in Germany themselves but they had several relatives, one of whom was killed, after being brutally beaten and tramped by members of the SA, the military arm of Hitler’s party. Of course, I was too young to have experienced Kristallnacht as this night of barbarism was named, but every Jewish child was immersed with the fear that was handed down from generation to generation. I therefore have very vivid memories of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass.

I have memories of a Jewish school being set aflame by seventeen and eighteen year old boys who tore the old Talmud teacher by his beard out of the building, before breaking the man’s back by repetitive and relentless kicking, while the elder comrades of the boys and SA Gruppenfuehrer stood aside laughing and inciting by his laughing the brown vested vandals and murderers to be. A fifth boy painted a white Star of David on the walls, before they disappeared in the night, leaving a dead man and disgrace.

This fear was vivid but it was a child’s fear nevertheless. This fear was no larger than the fear of Santa Claus that I inherited from my playmates in the street. In Amsterdam Santa Claus has Moorish assistants called Zwarte Piet who would put you in their jute bags to take you away to Spain if you have behaved badly during the year, and this legend aroused such fear of consciousness in me, that Zwarte Piet seemed to me endlessly more evil than the Nazi’s even though Zwarte Piet was a racist legend of a white-Christian society.

I later realized that as a Jewish boy I had much more in common with Zwarte Piet than I could imagine as a child. Today, I realize that the Moorish assistants of Santa Claus in Europe are one of the most evil and fascist inventions of European history. Zwarte Piet is the only icon of Nazi ideology that is tolerable in modern schools in Amsterdam, and little children are taught from very early on, to fear the evil that the black Moor represents. It is thanks to the good white Saint Nicolas who submitted the evil black Moor that children are rewarded for their faithfulness to the Church of Christ.

Tuesday, 9 November 2004
“Schools are burning in Uden, pig heads and Molotov cocktails are thrown at mosques all around the Netherlands. They are collective targets of an ethnic hatred that has been unconsciously premeditated by loosely related websites preaching violence covered by the freedom in which name they speak, individual politicians stirring up the fear on which they thrive, and popular media demonizing Muslims for years. Racist opportunism and extreme right extremists waited for the right wave of the moment that was bound to come. Now they all got their ride, and like a wave their frustrated hatred hit the dikes of tolerance and left governments that for years protected Dutch Muslims from the coup of civic small-mindedness that is so typical of the Netherlands.
The tidal wave of hatred splattered years of bred hatred and disgust, and is set loose by an invisible hand under which cover all act anonymously and remain innocent in its absent working. All who warmed themselves in this heat now are suddenly enlightened by the dark coldness that is exposed and from which they could not be liberated until it broke loose. They are the lost sheep returning to the flock bitten by the fearsome enemy of evil within oneself.”

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