Online Kristallnacht remembrance held by Cohen Center and HGS department

Kristallnacht– or the night of broken glass marked a turning point in history.

This turning point was commemorated on November 9. The event was virtual again for 2021 and the event was shifted to a webinar style. However, this was not always the case.

Keene State Interim Director for Genocide and Holocaust studies, Celia Rabinowitz, said there were changes made to enhance the virtual experience. Rabinowitz detailed, “We made a decision to shorten the event and to do everything pre-recorded, which was just going to make things much less complicated for everybody, and help us pull in more people, rather than having to make sure that everybody could be there on that particular night.” This shortened event included a half-hour video with new elements than previous years. Rabinowitz said, “I was really struck by one, was the way in which the faculty from the Holocaust and genocide Studies Department participated. This is the first year we’ve done something like that. And I thought for asking an academic person a question and asking them to limit their answer to just a few minutes, they all did an amazing job of conveying a lot of important information, and providing context and participating in this particular event.”

Rabinowitz also gave historical context to the commemoration, saying, “It marked a very serious and important turning point from the Nazis, mostly using language, some laws, but mostly just rhetoric, to real acts of violence, that involve not only Nazis and part Nazi Party members, but really bystanders, who either participated or just didn’t do anything as they watched their neighbors, you know, lose houses or get arrested and deported. So the event is a historical marker of how the situation really shifted.”

The video was full of testimonies from Keene State Faculty, as well as members of the community, and international ones too. Such quotes are as follows: “When social identity and the right to exist, was denied this video from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will show police participating with the perpetrators firemen hosing down adjacent buildings, so that Jewish buildings would burn, but that area and property would be safe. Or watch bystanders laugh and giggle as their neighbors are attacked. While watching, targeting and the wrestling of the observer to wonder, what is my role in this moment of attack.” This event is important to the Keene Community too, because it is a moment for Keene officials to reflect on the past year and lay out how they will combat more ‘broken glass’ in the Keene community.

Keene Police Chief Steven Russo outlined the department’s goal. Russo said, “None of us are perfect. And hopefully, this night of remembrance allows us the reminder to be better people. The mission of the Keene police department is to protect life and property, and to maintain order within the city, while ensuring fair and respectful treatment of everyone.” Keene Mayor George Hansel said, “We envisioned Keene as a strong, just and resilient city, for the health and wellbeing of the people who work, live and study here are nourished and support it.”

Rabbi Daniel Aronson said, “We as a community are proud partners with the Cohen Center, and their sacred work of education.” Aronson continued to lead the members of the commemoration into a prayer for the victims of Kristallnacht and the victims of the Holocaust.


Tim Wagner can be contacted at


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