Join us for Kristallnacht Commemoration

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College and The Colonial Theatre will host Keene’s annual Kristallnacht Commemoration at 7 p.m. at The Colonial Theatre on Main Street in Keene.

The event, free and open to the public, seeks to bring the area community together to bear witness, reflect, and consider our responsibilities for each other in a democratic society in which respect and justice thrive.

 After more than five years of growing Nazi power and persecutions, the Kristallnacht pogrom was unleashed against Germany’s Jews on the evening of Nov. 9, 1938. Although portrayed as a “spontaneous” action, the pogrom was planned well in advance by Nazi leaders who were seeking to create a Germany that was Judenfrei (free of Jews).

1938 had seen an intensified focus in anti-Jewish measures. The Nazis experimented with ways to “solve” the so-called “Jewish question,” expropriate Jewish possessions and finalize plans for a European war of “race and space.” Kristallnacht was public and interpersonal. Not all Germans condoned the events, but few were surprised and many “bystanders” took part or benefited.

In 1938-39, persecuted Jews in Europe found fewer avenues of escape and safe haven as borders were sealed against refugees. Despite President Roosevelt’s public condemnation of the November pogrom, a Roper poll revealed that 77 percent of Americans rejected allowing larger numbers of German Jewish refugees into the country. One congressman later suggested deporting “every alien in the U.S.”

In retelling this history our goal is not to merely recognize that evil exists in the world. Instead, we challenge ourselves to do more, to be better people; to recognize what is at stake: How do refugees, fearing for their lives, inform us and challenge our humanity in thought and deed? How do we embrace diversity and build peace in challenging times? How do we wrestle with core values of democratic citizenship? How can we interrupt the processes of genocide?

This year’s commemoration will include community participants such as the mayor, police and fire chiefs; Keene State College and Keene Middle School students; Keene’s Interfaith Clergy Association; MoCo Arts dancers; members of three Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs; a child survivor of the Holocaust; and candles of memory and hope. A private, edited showing of the new film “Über Leben” (“Survivor”) and an excerpt from the children’s opera “Brundibar” will be performed.

This annual community event seeks to inspire students and other citizens to take responsibility for promoting human dignity and civic responsibility while confronting the escalating violence that leads to atrocity and genocide.

Please join us for this hourlong commemoration.

THOMAS WHITE
Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

VICKY PITTMAN
The Colonial Theatre

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