Eighty years ago, Nazis orchestrated a highly organized attacked on Jews throughout Germany. Synagogues burned, Jewish owned businesses were destroyed and nearly 100 Jews were killed all while law enforcement officers refused to act. This evening of unprecedented violence and antisemitism is known as Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass.
To remember this horrific event, the College of Saint Elizabeth’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education hosted the 28th Annual Kristallnacht Commemoration on Monday, November 5. The keynote speaker was Professor Noah Isenberg from the New School.
In his speech, “Such Much?” Casablanca, Hitler’s Refugees, and the Hollywood Screen,” Isenberg critically analyzed the classic film Casablanca. He discussed the movie’s use of refugees, veiled commentary on historical events and furtive references to Jews and other targets of Nazi persecution.
Dr. Norbert Bikales then shared his Kristallnacht and Holocaust survivor testimony.
“I never thought I’d even see the 10th anniversary of Kristallnacht,” admits Bikales, who was only a child when the violence began on the night of November 9, 1938. “Now, I’m honoring the 80th anniversary.”
Bikales spoke in depth about his personal experience during the holocaust. Within just a few years, he was expelled from school several times for being Jewish, had his synagogue set on fire, lost his brother to deportation and his parents were murdered at Belzec, an extermination camp.
“It was the end of my childhood and the beginning of my fight for survival,” said Bikales, who only survived because he was on put on a Kindertransport, or children’s transport, to France.
Mary Colleen Robinson has a communication degree with a concentration in journalism and is currently working as the PR/Social Media Specialist at the College of Saint Elizabeth