Those Who Do Not Remember the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It

Police unit at BerMax café in Winnipeg, 2019 (image from CBC News)

UPDATE April 24th: Winnipeg police now report that this attack was staged by the owners. Three people have been charged.

The BerMax café on Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg, which I have visited quite a few times in the past year, was the target of a vicious anti-Semitic attack on Thursday night. CBC News reports:

A woman was assaulted and a Winnipeg restaurant was spray-painted with hateful graffiti Thursday, police say. Police were called to BerMax Caffé and Bistro, on Corydon Avenue just east of Kenaston Boulevard, around 10:45 p.m. The woman was taken to hospital in stable condition, treated and released, police say.

Police say the entire restaurant was “severely vandalized” and spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti. Police are investigating whether a robbery also took place. The inside of the restaurant was almost entirely destroyed, with plates and glasses smashed to pieces, tables and chairs flipped over and other items scattered across the floor, according to police. The same restaurant has been targeted with similar crimes four times in the past five months, Const. Rob Carver told reporters at a news conference Friday. 

Disturbingly, this attack has echoes of Kristallnacht. Both my mother and my father had the great misfortune to be born in Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s, and while neither was Jewish, my family was still significantly impacted by fascism. So I was shocked to my core to see this happen in Winnipeg, a city I call my home, which I had always considered to be diverse, friendly, welcoming, and highly supportive of multi-culturalism (it is home to Folklorama, the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival).

We cannot let our guard down. We must continue to fight anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism, xenophobia, and fascism wherever we encounter them, even if (especially if) it is in our own backyard. We must stop it, and we must act NOW. We must root it out. We cannot afford to ignore the lessons of the past. As George Santayana said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Kristallnacht, shop damage in Magdeburg, Germany, 1938 (Wikipedia)
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2 thoughts on “Those Who Do Not Remember the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It”

  1. I cheered when I saw someone from my virtual world interest grouping crossing the divide that seems to separate the virtual world and the real life world. That it was my virtual friend Ryan made my smile larger. I immediately joined your Patron group.

    The relation between the current atmosphere of hatred, bigotry and racism with the horror of Kristallnacht is all too evident. Is there a virtual world without a real world?

    BTW is the German woman in the picture smiling?

    I repeat your quote of George Santayan, “Those Who Do Not Remember the Past Are Condemned to Repeat It.” It is not just the growth of hatred and all its despicable traveling companions that concerns me. I also shudder when I see the casual way nuclear bombs are casually thought of as just a bigger weapon.

    I grew up during the height of the cold war. I even “ducked and covered” in 1962. It didn’t take a lot of analysis to realize an atomic bomb is a lot more than just a bigger bomb.

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