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Duquesne community remembers Kristallnacht

November 16, 2018

Originally featured in The Duquesne Duke (11/15/2018) 
Author: Samantha Zapach
Mentioned: Dr. Roger Frie 

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Duquesne community came together to honor all victims, past and present, affected by anti-Semitic acts of violence.

A candlelight vigil was held on Friday, Nov. 9 on Academic Walk in front of the Student Union to not only mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht, but honor the 11 victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting.

Kristallnacht, directly translated as the “night of broken glass,” took place from Nov. 9 to Nov. 10 in 1938, where Nazis invaded and destroyed the homes, businesses, schools and synagogues of Jewish people. Nearly 100 Jews died and more than 30,000 other Jews were arrested and sent off to concentration camps, where they were brutally treated and killed.

Speakers at the ceremony included Daniel Burston, associate professor of psychology; Laurie Kessler, assistant director for the university’s Center for Counseling and Wellbeing; Eric Chatterjee, president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and Will Adams, associate professor of psychology.

As Burston mentioned in his opening remarks at the ceremony, “The Nazis named their brutal escapade Reichskristallnacht or more simply Kristallnacht, to emphasize the quantity of glass that was broken that night, as a way to divert attention from the broken communities, broken families, broken hopes and broken lives, for which the Jewish community was held entirely responsible, and paid for through the confiscation of property and businesses.”

According to Burston, he felt that it was his responsibility to help organize a vigil to raise public awareness about the rising tide of anti-Semitism and white supremacy.

“Killing Jews and destroying their places of worship was one of the Nazis’ key objectives on Kristallnacht,” Burston said. “This attack [at the Tree of Life synagogue] was inspired by the same bloodthirsty attitude.”

The vigil featured a live musical performance from Noah Potvin, assistant professor of music therapy in both the Mary Pappert School of Music and the School of Nursing.

The event was sponsored by the Jewish Studies Forum in partnership with the University Center for Counseling and Wellbeing, the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts and SGA, as well as the Office for Student Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement.

In addition to the vigil, a Kristallnacht remembrance program was held on Monday, Nov. 12, in the Charles J. Dougherty Ballroom in the Power Center, where Roger Frie, professor and clinical psychologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada discussed his award winning book, Not in My Family: German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust.

In his book, Frie reflects upon not only his own heritage and family history, but the histories of others to explore the moral and psychological implications on one of the darkest moments in history to this day.

The event was sponsored by the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts as well as the Jewish Studies Forum in partnership with the Nathan and Helen Goldrich Foundation.