History of human violence being ignored, Holocaust survivor tells Dubai audience

Eve Kugler, 91, recalls the day Nazis ransacked her childhood home and placed her father in a concentration camp

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The lessons of history are being ignored, according to a Holocaust survivor who spoke at an event in Dubai on Wednesday.

Eve Kugler, 91, made her remarks during an event marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when hundreds of synagogues were burnt down and Jewish businesses were attacked by Nazis across Germany on November 9 and 10 in 1938.

Though 84 years have passed, she will never forget when Nazis forced their way into her home and ransacked the property in the dead of night, taking her father away to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

While those events occurred decades ago, she said that many people today, including Muslims, were still living in fear simply because of their religious beliefs.

Quote
On that night, I remember six Nazis pounding on our door - they had come to arrest my father just because he was Jewish
Eve Kugler, Holocaust survivor

“We have got to learn to live together with respect and stop killing each other,” she said.

“I want people to understand that what happened to my family could happen to them as well. It is that simple.

“It is not only about violence against Jews."

Ms Kugler was in Dubai to tell her story to an audience at the UAE Crossroads of Civilisations Museum.

Earlier in the day, she addressed a classroom of Jewish and Muslim children in the emirate.

November Pogrom

There were approximately 100 Jewish people murdered in the violence orchestrated by Nazis on Kristallnacht, also known as the November Pogrom.

It was estimated that a further 30,000 were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

While Ms Kugler was only seven at the time, the events of that night in her home in Halle, Germany, have understandably been seared into her memory.

“On that night I remember six Nazis pounding on our door, they had come to arrest my father just because he was Jewish,” she said.

“These men in their dark uniforms were so scary to me as a child. They were turning over furniture and creating havoc in our home.

“We owned a business underneath our apartment and the next morning, when we went downstairs, the window was smashed to pieces.

“The nearby synagogue that my grandfather helped to build had also been burnt to the ground.”

Separated by the Holocaust, the family reunited after years

Her mother went to the local police station in the afternoon to plead for her husband’s release.

She was told if she could provide a visa, then her husband would be released. Under this provision, they left the country.

“They said they didn’t want any Jews in Germany,” Ms Kugler said.

“We were able to leave and travel to France, but not before the Nazis took all the money my father owned.”

While France fell under German control in 1940, Ms Kugler and her sister were able to travel to the US after the American government issued visas for hundreds of children trapped in French concentration camps.

She lived in foster homes in the US until she was reunited with the rest of her family after the Second World War ended in 1945.

Her mother hid in a Catholic convent and then on an isolated farm, with the help of the French Resistance.

Both her parents survived spending time in four different concentration camps.

Kristallnacht is widely regarded as a tipping point, when anti-Jewish sentiment became something much more sinister, eventually leading to the Holocaust.

Discrimination against Jewish people was something Ms Kugler grew up with in her home city.

“I couldn’t go to the cinema and I wasn’t allowed to go to a local playground,” she said.

“But this escalated on Kristallnacht and all over the country people were being arrested and their businesses were being destroyed.”

She was also quick to point out that her presence at an event to highlight that night, speaking to a Muslim audience in the GCC, would have been impossible a few years ago.

The Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel were signed in 2020 at a ceremony at the White House, ushering in a new chapter for the region.

“I am extremely honoured to be here and to have this opportunity,” she said.

“It’s important to be able to talk about the impact of the Holocaust, this was an attack on religion that could still happen again.

“It is happening again in fact, against Muslims in other parts of the world.”

Also speaking at the event on Wednesday was Eitan Neishlos, March of the Living ambassador to the Gulf States.

March of the Living is an organisation set up to educate people on the effects of the Holocaust.

“We have made history today, in bringing the voices of survivors of the Holocaust to the UAE,” Mr Neishlos said.

“Under the umbrella of the Abraham Accords, we are building firm and lasting bridges of understanding and appreciation between our communities.

“The Holocaust stands as a unique crime against humanity and an important part of the Jewish story and experience.

“It holds lessons for all of us about the importance of tolerance ― a pillar of life here in the UAE which I greatly appreciate.”

Updated: November 10, 2022, 4:27 AM
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