Community Remembrance 2018: Kristallnacht

This year’s community-wide Kristallnacht commemoration will take place on Thursday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m., at Congregation Ohev Sholom, 5311 West 75th Street, Prairie Village, Kansas.

It will feature a panel of Holocaust survivors who will share their recollections as witnesses to the events of Kristallnacht. Complimentary reservations are available by calling 913-327-8196 or emailing rsvp@mchekc.org.

The panel will feature German and Austrian survivors who personally witnessed events of the 1930s. The speakers will share personal recollections of their childhoods, including memories of early persecution, Kristallnacht, the Kindertransports and emigration. Panelists include Esther Bergh, Tom Lewinsohn, Peter Newman, and Erwin Stern. (This list is subject to change due to health considerations of the survivors.)

This Kristallnacht commemoration marks 80 years since the Nazi SS and other national police agencies in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland carried out a series of violent, state-sponsored, anti-Jewish pogroms devised by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minster of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

These events of November 9 and 10, 1938, designed to appear as spontaneous, came to be known as Kristallnacht (commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”) a reference to the broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes destroyed and plundered by the rioters. In all, 267 synagogues were burned or destroyed, 7,500 Jewish businesses were vandalized or looted, at least 91 Jewish people were killed, and approximately 30,000 Jewish men were imprisoned in concentration camps. Rioters also damaged Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, and schools while police and fire brigades stood aside, under orders to intervene only if the fires threatened non-Jewish property.

Kristallnacht ended the illusion that normal Jewish life under the Nazis was still possible. It also marked a turning point in Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust—the systematic, state-sponsored mass murder of the European Jews.

Read more about the history of Kristallnacht.