Ilja Sichrovsky champions interfaith harmony at the “Night of Broken Glass” commemoration event

Named “I am a Witness”, a gathering was recently held at the Volks Theater in Vienna to mark 76 years since the attacks on Jewish communities living in Germany and Austria.

Referred to as the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ – symbolizing shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues had their windows smashed – the pogrom targeted the Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria on 9–10 November 1938.

Despite 76 years having passed since then, and subsequent generations growing up with the slogan “Never Again“, persecution of minorities continues to this day.

Speaking on the occasion, Ilja Sichrovsky, Founder & Secretary General of the Muslim Jewish Conference (MJC), recounted his family’s struggles during the Holocaust and discussed how human compassion was the only thing that saved his grandparents – a German soldier helped his grandfather escape to Belgium, and a Catholic priest forged his grandmother’s documents so she could flee the country as a Catholic.

“The reason I am alive today is that human beings, no matter their religious or political views, understood that the time is always right to do what is right. The Dark chapters of European history are a painful reminder of what happens if we give in to the concept of ‘them’ versus ‘us’.”

His family’s struggles have been a major inspiration for Ilja’s work at the Muslim Jewish Conference, a grassroots organization bridging cultural and religious barriers between young Muslim and Jews from around the world.

“I am a Witness”, organized in cooperation with the Austrian Parliament, while commemorating the horrors of the pogrom and the Holocaust in general, also denounced the atrocities and injustices of today. The event included reports, movie presentations and performances.

The evening was dedicated to all the witnesses: those who experienced and survived the unbelievable crimes during the Holocaust, but also those who are persecuted today and are still not welcomed with open arms. Ultimately, witnesses are also the individuals who know the dangerous consequences of people’s apathy and are willing to raise their voices against discrimination.

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