85 years after tragedy struck the Jewish community in Germany and Austria, the Keene Public Library filled to capacity to reflect on the events that happened on that night.
Kristallnacht occurred on November 9, 1938, when the Nazi party in Germany and Austria launched a wave of attacks on Jewish people and their property, further escalating their policy of persecution.
The name Kristallnacht refers to the litter of broken glass left in the streets after what amounted to massacre.
The event was held with the goal of standing together with residents, local leaders, students and anyone else who wanted to recommit themselves to being a community that is against hatred and especially violence.
This was the first of a few different events that will be held for remembrance. There will be lectures and campaigns to follow this starting event.
These consist of two lectures featuring Suzanne Hampel, co-president of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum in Australia.
In many past years, these events took place outside, mostly downtown and on campus, with the hope that this would spread the word of this remembrance to others. But this year, Kate DeConinck, the director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, said, “The original plan was to be outside on the central square of downtown where our presence could be seen, but due to weather and some feeling vulnerable with a rise in hatred we decided to move indoors… Antisemitism is on the rise across Germany and other parts of Europe. This is due to the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.”
Many holocaust and genocide studies students who have or are learning about this day were in attendance as well, according to DeConinck. Michele Kuiawa, DeConinck and other staff from the holocaust and genocide studies team worked to put this event together.
After being asked why he chose to help hold this event, Tom White, the coordinator for educational outreach for the Cohen Center, said, “We want to humanize the events of Kristallnacht by speaking their stories.”
This day also holds different meanings to those that came as well. Someone who spoke on its meaning was City of Keene Fire Department Chief Donald Farquhar.
“This day reminds me why there is such a need to teach. It especially reminds me to teach and, as I said in my speech, to be resilient,” Farquhar said.The design of this event is to help bring all those who feel a connection to the day and those who choose to remember together, according to the online program After 85 years, Kristallnacht is still remembered.
Ava Pittman can be contacted at