Pittsburgh's Hillel Jewish University Center (JUC) launched a week-long commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht ("The Night of Broken Glass") on the campuses of Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Pittsburgh on Sunday, November 9.
The week kicked off on Sunday night as students joined the United Jewish Federation to commemorate the night of broken glass in a program called "Word is Born - Lessons in Kristallnacht 65th Anniversary." Students heard from acclaimed author Harry Reicher about the perversions of law that led to the atrocities of Kristallnacht and ultimately to the murder of over 12 million civilians including 6 million Jews.
"These student leaders have envisioned and implemented a comprehensive program that is relevant not only for Jewish students, but also the greater community," said Andrew Stewart, president of the Hillel JUC. "The Hillel planned different kinds of activities to commemorate Kirstallnacht and to highlight the inherent dangers of apathy in the face of prejudice."
On Monday and Tuesday, there was a public glass-breaking display, a video documentary about Kristallnacht, and a presentation in which students read parts of the Nuremberg laws and personal testimonies of survivors from Kristallnacht.
Other programs included hearing from Holocaust survivor Fritz Ottenhiemer; screening the Jason Robards movie "Reunion" about the true story of a man searching for a childhood friend he lost during Kristallnacht; and screening the Oscar and Cannes award-winning classic "Europa-Europa" about the flight of a young Jewish child during the Holocaust.
"The last time we did this event, we got such an outstanding response from the campus and community at large that we decided to open it up to a wider variety of events to provide a broader understanding of what took place 65 years ago and how it is still relevant today," said Mika Larrison, student chair for Kristallnacht Week at Carnegie Mellon University.
The event will close with a trip to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, November 16.
"Without looking back and understanding, we run the risk of history repeating itself," said Lindsay Waldman, student chair for Kristallnacht Week at The University of Pittsburgh. "It is therefore important to try and reach out to as many people as possible in as many different ways."