80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Two Holocaust survivors will speak Friday, November 9, at 12:30 pm at the Michael Klahr Center on the University of Maine at Augusta campus.  Friday marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous night of broken glass that marked a turning point from hateful rhetoric and discrimination to violence. Maine Holocaust survivors Edith Lucas Pagelson and Charles Rotmil remember Kristallnacht and will speak to their memories at tomorrow’s event. Edith Lucas Pagelson was only twelve years old.

“This was my first experience of terror, my first real blow,” said Edith Lucas Pagelson in her memoir Against All Odds: A Miracle of Holocaust Survival,  “Somehow, deep in the recesses of my soul, I grasped that life, as I knew it, was going to change forever.”

In addition to the Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Erica Asch of Temple Beth El in Augusta and Executive Director Shenna Bellows will speak.  Children from the local synagogue and civil rights team will participate in a glass breaking ceremony at the very end of the event.

“There are few people surviving today who lived through Kristallnacht. It’s incredibly important that we hear their stories and keep their memories alive to prevent future acts of bias-motivated violence and hate,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. “The 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht provides an important moment to reflect upon the lessons of the Holocaust and act now to confront prejudice and hate every time we witness it.”

Kristallnacht was a pogrom against Jews orchestrated by the Nazis to wreak terror in Jewish communities. Over two days, starting on November 9, 1938 at least 91 Jews were killed, 267 synagogues were destroyed or burned down. 7,500 Jewish shops and businesses were vandalized and an untold number of Jewish homes were vandalized. 20,000 – 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.