Eighty years ago, thriving Jewish-owned businesses throughout Germany were systematically vandalized and destroyed by Nazi mobs during riots that would come to be known as Kristallnacht. On Nov. 9 and Nov. 10, 1938, Jewish families who had built successful businesses saw their livelihoods destroyed, while synagogues and Jewish homes were ravaged, and many innocent people were murdered, beaten, and incarcerated.
In remembrance of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the College of Charleston Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program will host a concert and lecture commemorating the eventsof Kristallnacht, also known as the “Night of Broken Glass.”
“Kristallnacht was a major milestone on the path towards systematic, state-organized mass murder”, says David Slucki, assistant professor of Jewish Studies at the College. “It helps to remind us that genocide does not happen overnight, but is the culmination of years of dehumanization. Words and rhetoric carry power. The recent upsurge in anti-Semitic public discourse bears striking parallels to historic characterizations of Jews as outsiders undermining the nation state. The anniversary of Kristallnacht helps remind us where such dehumanizing language can lead.”
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the College will host the concert “Art is My Weapon: The Radical Musical Life of Lin Jaldati” on Nov. 8, 2018, in Arnold Hall starting at 7 p.m. This program tells the story of Lin Jaldati, a Dutch Jewish Communist cabaret performer in the 1930s who went by the stage name Rebekka Brilleslijper. Jaldati was a Nazi death camp survivor, who immigrated to East Germany after World War II, where she had a successful career as a global Yiddish singing sensation until her death in 1988. Performed by University of Colorado Jewish studies professor David Shneer and acclaimed composer and musician Jewlia Eisenberg, the program examines how Jaldati’s Yiddish music and her compelling biography made her one of the key players in shaping Holocaust memory in East Germany. The concert is sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, the Zucker/Goldberg Center for Holocaust Studies, the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, and the Department of German and Russian Studies.
On Nov. 11, 2018, the Jewish Studies Program will present “The Pink Triangle: The History and Memory of the Nazi Persecution of Gay Men.” This program will be held in Arnold Hall at 10 a.m., which will be preceded by a free community brunch at 9 a.m. In this lecture, Shneer will explore the history behind the persecution of homosexuals. He will also question whether this persecution can be considered part of the Holocaust.
Both programs are free and open to the public.
“In light of the recent murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the ongoing spate of racial, religious, and gender-based violence, it is more important than ever that we look back into the past to recognize precedents and parallels,” says Slucki.