Annual Kristallnacht Remembrance November 8
KEENE, N.H., 10/31/07 - 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 7:30 p.m., Thurs., Nov. 8, in the Charles Larracey Auditorium of Keene Middle School. The annual event is free and open to the public.
The program will feature symbolic candle lighting, glass breaking, and short testimonial readings by local citizens. This year’s remembrance speaker is U.S. Congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1928, Lantos escaped from an Arrow Cross (Hungarian fascists) labor camp and survived the Nazi occupation of his country by hiding in a Budapest safe house set up by Swedish rescuer Raoul Wallenberg. His story is one of the individual accounts that form the basis of Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award- winning documentary, The Last Days, about the Holocaust in Hungary.
During the night of November 9-10, 1938, a series of nationwide pogroms (state-initiated anti-Jewish violence) was initiated and coordinated by the Nazi government throughout Germany and the recently annexed state of Austria. Within a few hours, an estimated 7,500 Jewish-owned commercial establishments (those that had survived the coercive takeovers begun in 1933) were smashed. These included 815 shops and 29 department stores. More than 900 synagogues were vandalized, looted, or otherwise destroyed - 267 of these were burned. Homes were invaded as 171 residences were attacked. Public officials were instructed to allow the destruction, but to confine the violence to Jewish life and property. Ninety-one Jews were killed. The shattered panes of beveled glass that littered sidewalks, most of it coming from the shop windows of Jewish stores, gave the pogrom its name: Kristallnacht or “Crystal Night.” In the days that followed, 25 to 30,000 Jewish men (almost 10% of what remained of the German Jewish community) were sent to Germany’s concentration camps. With Kristallnacht, the threshold had been crossed by Germany and its Nazi government. It marked the Nazis’ first centrally organized operation of large- scale, anti-Jewish violence, an escalation toward a more aggressive antisemitic policy, and signaled the fateful transfer of responsibility for “solving” the “Jewish Question” to the SS, the principal instrument of internal rule, racial ideology, and population policy, in Germany.
Kristallnacht Remembrance is sponsored by Keene State College’s Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies, the KSC Campus Ministry, the Keene Interfaith Clergy Association, the KSC Office of Finance and Planning, Congregation Ahavas Achim, and The Keene Sentinel. In coordination with the Keene Chamber of Commerce, many businesses display information about both Kristallnacht and the remembrance in their display windows in the days before the event.
For more information, visit www.keene.edu/cchs/kristallnacht.cfm or call 603-358-2490.