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Annual Gathering Recalls 'Kristallnacht'

KEENE, N.H. 11/1/05 - Keene’s 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., Wednesday, 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; dance from The Moving Company; a presentation from Einbeck, Keene’s partner city in Germany; and a short segment of a new oratorio by composer Lawrence Siegel.

Siegel’s work, entitled Kaddish, was commissioned by the American Composers Forum to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies at Keene State College, taking place in 2008. The short segment of the oratorio to be presented at the Kristallnacht event will feature baritone David Ripley, associate professor of music at the University of New Hampshire and an internationally known vocalist. Siegel, who lives in Westmoreland, is a nationally recognized composer who may be known best locally as the composer of Monadnock Tales, a collaboration with writer Edie Clark.

The evening, with its theme of speaking up in the face of intolerance, will also pay tribute to the memory of Keene native son and civil rights hero Jonathan Daniels.

The Einbeck feature, a 10-minute video presentation prepared especially for the Keene program, shows the German city today, but describes the destruction of its synagogue during Kristallnacht.

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

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

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