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Gathering Recalls 'Kristallnacht'

KEENE, N.H. 11/02/04 - A remembrance of Kristallnacht, a 1938 event marking the first case of state-sponsored mass violence against Jews by the Third Reich, will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Larracey Auditorium of Keene Middle School. The annual event is free and open to the public.

The program will feature symbolic candlelighting and glassbreaking, short readings by local citizens, musical interludes, and remarks by Dr. Martin Rumscheidt, a theologian and scholar of the Holocaust, whose own father was a Nazi perpetrator.

On the night of November 9, 1938, a pogrom was orchestrated throughout Germany and Austria by the Third Reich’s Propaganda Ministry and the S.A. (Sturmabteilung or Storm Troops). During this violent night, 91 Jews were killed. In addition, 815 shops, 29 department stores, 171 homes, and 267 synagogues were burned or destroyed. The shattered panes of glass from windows of Jewish buildings gave the pogrom its name: Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass.”

In the days following Kristallnacht, approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and taken to the concentration camps of Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen. They were met at the camps with great cruelty imposed by the SS guards. Kristallnacht would prove a watershed for the total removal of Jews from Germany.

A native of Germany, Rumscheidt is an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, a distinguished and well-known theologian in both North America and Europe, and professor emeritus of systematic theology at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he taught from 1970 until his retirement earlier this year.

Rumscheidt completed both his undergraduate and graduate education at McGill University. He has authored, edited and translated numerous books and articles, and he is especially well known for his translation of the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of Adolf Hitler’s most renowned Christian martyrs.

The Kristallnacht remembrance is sponsored by Keene State College’s Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies, the KSC Campus Ministry, and the Keene Interfaith Clergy Association. In coordination with the Keene Chamber of Commerce, many businesses will display information about both Kristallnacht and the remembrance in their display windows in the days before the event.

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