Yuri Yarim-Agaev: How to Win an Ideological War





Mr. Yarim-Agaev is a scientist and human-rights activist who was a leading dissident in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

On Nov. 9, 1938, thousands of German storm troopers, acting under direct orders, launched the Jewish pogrom known as Kristallnacht. The attacks left approximately 100 Jews dead and 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged. Hundreds of homes and synagogues were vandalized.
 
The mastermind of the pogrom, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, explained it to the world as a "spontaneous" reaction to the murder of German diplomat by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Jew. Goebbels said the pogrom showed the "healthy instincts" of the German people.
 
Some Jewish organizations, while strongly condemning German actions, expressed concern about the pogrom's alleged cause. The World Jewish Congress stated that it "deplored the fatal shooting of an official of the German Embassy by a young Polish Jew." These displays of contrition did not help. Kristallnacht was soon followed by the Holocaust, in which more than six million European Jews died.
 
What can we learn from that tragic history?..


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