Late in the night of November 10th, some anarchists snuck out to the Trinity Lutheran Church in Olympia, WA to show their disgust for the Lutheran church. On the walls of the church were painted the words, “Luther inspired Kristallnacht,” “Jewish fags against Luther,” as well as the Star of David with the antifascist arrows inside.
The night marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht (קרישטאָל נאַכט), a pogrom (פאָגראָם) against the Jews of Germany in 1938. The night also marked the birthday of Martin Luther, who was born November 10, 1483.
Martin Luther was a German professor of theology who became a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. In the early years of his career, Luther tried to get the Jews to convert to Christianity. As the years progressed, his anti-Jewishness became more and more vehement. in 1543, Luther wrote “On Jews and their Lies,” a treatise advocating for genocide against the Jews. In it, he advises the protestants to burn down synagogues and Jewish schools, raze their houses to the ground, forbid rabbis to teach and to torture or kill those who do, to take away all religious writings and, finally, to commit genocide. He wrote, “So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they [the Jews] shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them.” He also wrote, “These poisonous envenomed worms should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.” In the 1500s, synagogues were destroyed and Jews were expelled from several German Lutheran states as a result of Luther’s writing.
“On Jews and their Lies” served as the blueprint for Kristallnacht (“crystal night”), a pogrom in which hundreds of Jews were murdered, thousands raped and brutalized, graves uprooted, over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed and over 1,200 synagogues desecrated across Germany. The name Kristallnacht refers to the broken glass of Jewish buildings and synagogues that filled the streets. During Kristallnacht, 30,000 men were arrested and sent to concentrations camps. German police, as well as non-Jewish German citizens, watched the horror without intervening.
The Nazi’s official excuse for Kristallnacht was to avenge Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat at the Paris Embassy. On November 9th, 1938, vom Rath was shot and killed by a Polish teen, Herschel Grynszpan, who was living in Paris. Grynszpan, who was 17, shot vom Rath after receiving a postcard from his parents in Germany detailing some of the abuses of the German government against the Jews. In regards to the shooting, Herschel Grynszpan said, “With God’s help. My dear parents, I could not do otherwise, may God forgive me, the heart bleeds when I hear of your tragedy and that of the 12,000 Jews. I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do. Forgive me.” Grynszpan was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where he died.
Shortly after Kristallnacht, an SS member published some of Luther’s writings, commending the Germans for following Luther’s advice. The SS member wrote, “On 10 November 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany. The German people ought to heed these words of the greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.”
The Lutheran church, while paying lip service to being “against anti-semitism” is nevertheless anti-Jewish by nature. It is akin to a religion calling themselves “Hitlerism” and saying they don’t agree with his anti-semitism, but they really loved what he said about painting. By advocating for a man who advocated genocide against the Jews, they are advocating for his anti-Jewishness as well. The Trinity Lutheran Church was chosen in particular for its membership in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod which has a vehemently anti-women, anti-gay theology.
As Jews and as queers, we want to express our disgust and hatred of the Lutheran Church and everything it represents. We will not stop revolting so long as there are people and institutions advocating anti-Jewish and anti-queer ideology. We are a threat, and we will fight. Let the Lutheran Church take note!
To a world without anti-semitism,
for a renewed Jewish antifascism,
and to the destruction of the entire social order as we know it!
We will outlive them!
-a Jewish anarchist