On Thursday, November 8, at 7 pm, city and local leaders will join the Keene community for the annual Kristallnacht Commemoration at The Colonial Theatre. “Hope and prevention” is the message as we stand with survivors of Kristallnacht and make a conscious choice not to forget.
The Keene community has become a model for other communities regarding Kristallnacht Commemoration. Tom White, Coordinator of Educational Outreach at the Keene State College Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies program and a commemoration developer, said he and others are fortunate to have support and engagement from the community.
With an accepting and unique leadership in this community, White said NH State Senator Jay Kahn, Keene Mayor Kendall Lane, Keene Fire Chief Mark Howard, Keene Police Captain Steven Stewart, Elsa Worth of the Keene Interfaith Clergy Association, and Henry Knight from the KSC Cohen Center will all be in attendance. “It is quite unique to have these leaders publicly stand up to declare that they will not forget and that their work now is informed by the knowledge of what happened then,” said White.
Kristallnacht occurred on November 9, 1938. The pogrom, or anti-Semitic violence and attacks against Jewish communities, planned by Adolf Hitler’s Chief of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, was carried out by the Nazi party’s “security apparatus.” 267 synagogues were burned or destroyed, 7,500 Jewish businesses were vandalized or looted, and at least 91 Jews were killed. There was extensive damage done to Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes as well while countless German citizens, police officers and fire brigades stood by and did nothing to protect them. Jews were penalized after Kristallnacht for the violence inflicted upon them and were held responsible by insurance companies to pay for all of the damage to their properties and synagogues.
Throughout the evening, the community will hear from relatives of Holocaust survivors, who serve as a reminder of why these stories should be remembered. Victims of genocide and discrimination will also be commemorated. The evening will include performances from the Keene Middle School Choir and MOCO Arts dancers.
As the event ends, White said, “…one generation will light a candle and pass it to a younger generation who will lead the community from the theatre in silence, reflecting on not only the plight of others but also on how we might be able to prevent discrimination and violence in our community in the future.”
In a time where the world still sees inflicted violence and discrimination against groups of people, there is no better opportunity for the Keene community to come together and remember. “The commemoration asks the community to live as better people informed by what is at stake,” said White.
“Memory can inspire us to be a spark of light, of hope, in our world,” said White.
Please join The Colonial Theatre on Thursday, November 8 at 7:00 pm, as we come together to remember, to create, and move forward as a community. This event is free and open to all.