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Annual Kristallnacht Remembrance Thursday November 6

KEENE, N.H. 10/28/08 - Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass,” will be remembered on Thursday, November 6, at 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre in downtown Keene. This event in Germany in 1938 marked the beginning of the Nazis’ systematic persecution of Jews and served as a prelude to the coming Holocaust. The KSC Chamber Singers, the Chamber Singers of Keene, and MoCoArts of Keene will all be part of the evening of Remembrance.

This year’s remembrance will feature Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and Chambon Foundation president Pierre Sauvage. Pierre Sauvage is a child survivor of the Holocaust and a child of Holocaust survivors. He is best known for his 1989 feature documentary Weapons of the Spirit, which tells the story of a mountain community in France that defied the Nazis and took in and saved five thousand Jews, including Sauvage and his parents. Sauvage himself was born in this unique Christian oasis, Le Chambon, at a time when much of his family was being tortured and murdered in the Nazi death camps. It was only at the age of 18 that he learned that he and his family were Jewish and survivors of the Holocaust.

During the night of November 9 to 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 Schutzstaffel (SS), the principal instrument of internal rule, racial ideology, and population policy, in Germany.

This event is sponsored by the Keene Interfaith Clergy Association, the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies at Keene State College, Congregation Ahavas Achim, the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Planning at Keene State College, and the New Hampshire Humanities Council. It is free and open to the public and is suitable for children ages 10 and up. Please call Tom White at 603-358-2746, or visit for more information.

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