Saturday, December 06, 2008

Kristallnacht + 70 years

Seventy years ago today William Cooper, an Aboriginal rights activist, marched from his home in Footscray, a suburb in Melbourne's west, to the German consulate in South Melbourne to deliver a formal protest against Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) when hordes of Nazi thugs burned and looted between 250 and 500 synagogues, as well as 7,000 Jewish shops and 800 homes taking thousands of Jewish men to concentration camps.

Cooper did this in a faraway land and as a member of an oppressed community that had its own problems with persecution. No-one else, not the League of Nations, not the United States or Great Britain uttered a word.

Only William Cooper and his people.

And despite all that, it would be almost thirty years before his own people would be legally recognised as citizens in their own land and almost seventy years before an official apology was given to them by the government of this country.

Cooper's was a unique act of enormous courage in a world that was indifferent to the suffering of others. He is one of the truly heroic figures of this nation.

Speech by Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem

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