New York, NY – The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust commemorated the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht—featuring remarks by keynote speaker H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations—on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
George Klein, Vice Chairman of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, who opened the commemoration ceremony, said, “Each year Jews around the world remember Kristallnacht. There is both great sadness but also hope. Hope that such barbarianism against Jews will never happen again, that governments like the Nazi regime will never exist again, and that neighbors will never again become complicit or morally complacent.”
The ceremony observed the anniversary of a series of mob attacks organized by the Nazi Party against Jews on November 9 and 10, 1938 throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and in areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia occupied by German troops. This came to be called Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass, because of the shattered glass that littered streets after the destruction and vandalism of Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and homes, as well as cemeteries.
About 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes, and schools were plundered, and at least 91 Jews were murdered. Approximately 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Kristallnacht was a turning point in the history of the Third Reich, marking the shift from antisemitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust.
“Kristallnacht was not just a Night of Broken Glass; it was the night of broken lives, broken families, broken societies, broken dreams,” Secretary-General Guterres said.
The Secretary-General, who has twice visited the Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., noted that the exhibition “calls on us to witness. And it summons us to speak. After all, ‘Never again’ means telling the story again and again – especially in these times.”
“This exhibition truly is not just an exercise in looking back, it helps us to assess our present, and to recognize the need for continued vigilance,” he said. “In recent months alone, across the world, we have seen the vandalization of Jewish graves, the defacement of a Holocaust memorial, the burning of a yeshiva, and the spread of vile propaganda about Jews. And of course, it is just over a year since the worst antisemitic attack in the history of the United States, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh… Decades after the Holocaust, the world’s oldest hatred is still with us.”
Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, “In order to rid the world from this disease, we must vaccinate children and adults alike. The only vaccine against antisemitism is education – education to ideas such as compassion, understanding and tolerance.”
“The State of Israel is the target of many antisemitic acts. But a thriving, strong, democratic Jewish state is also the best answer to antisemitism,” he added. “Israel has learned the lessons of history and continues to serve as a safe home for all Jews and to fight antisemitism wherever it raises its ugly head.”
At the ceremony, attended by about 275 people including a dozen survivors of the Holocaust, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, President of March of the Living, the organization’s Vice Chairman Baruch Adler, and Emerging Leaders Hallie Goldstein and Noah Tradonsky, delivered remarks. Closing the ceremony was Bruce Ratner, Chairman of the Board at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
“Your work on both preventing antisemitism and your work on human rights is unparalleled,” Ratner said in thanking the Secretary-General, “and we are touched and moved and inspired by your being here and what you said.”
Prior to and after the program, attendees also had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., the most comprehensive Holocaust exhibition about Auschwitz ever presented in North America. Due to an overwhelming response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage recently announced that the exhibition will be extended until August 30, 2020. Produced by the international exhibition firm Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the groundbreaking exhibition is the largest ever on Auschwitz with more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs from more than 20 international museums and institutions.
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is made possible with lead support by Bruce C. Ratner, George and Adele Klein Family Foundation, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, and Larry and Klara Silverstein & Family. The exhibition is presented in part with major support by The David Berg Foundation, Patti Askwith Kenner, The Oster Family Foundation, and The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust. The New York premiere is made possible in part by Simon & Stefany Bergson with additional support from The Knapp Family Foundation.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE – A LIVING MEMORIAL TO THE HOLOCAUST
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second largest in North America, the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan, completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Since 1997, the Museum of Jewish Heritage has welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors; it maintains a collection of more than 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.
The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.
For more information, visit mjhnyc.org.