November 9, 1998 marked the 60th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or "Night of the Broken Glass." In remembrance of this event, the NWCHE organized a memoriam, to honor and remember those lost to bigotry and extermination efforts of mankind.
The memoriam was held at WWU and was attended by 350 students and community members. A stained-glass memorial was created that is currently housed at the Shalom Center at Western Washington University.
Eighteen people participated in the Memoriam. Four were Holocaust survivors who live in Whatcom County remembering loved ones lost, and several others were of the second or third generation remembering relatives who died at the hands of the Nazis. The ceremony also included representatives of numerous communities within Whatcom County who have also been the target of persecution. Each participant replaced a piece of glass into the memorial, until the window was whole, symbolically representing the wholeness of our community, though still scarred by past bigotry and hate.
In 1999, the same people gathered at Western's Shalom Center by the same people for the unveiling of the glass memorial where it is now permanently housed. Family and friends watched as participants each removed a piece of the veil covering the memorial window, and rededicated their piece of glass.
Complete statements and testimonials of those dedicating pieces of glass are included here.
The following is a copy of the Kristallnacht 1998 program
Kristallnacht Memoriam: An Evening of Remembering, Honoring and Sharing
Monday, November 9, 1998
Welcome: Dr. Dennis Murphy, Interim Provost of Western Washington University
Introduction: Dr. Ray Wolpow, Director of the Northwest Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Ethnocide Education
"Dead silence --- not a sound to be heard in town. The lamps in the street, the lights in the shops and in the houses are out. It is 3:30 a.m.. All of a sudden noises in the street break into my sleep, a wild medley of shouts and shrieks. I listen, frightened and alarmed, until I distinguish words: Get out, Jews! Death to the Jews." Survivor Norman Bentwich, quoted in Eisenberg, Azriel, Witness to the Holocaust. New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1981, page 84 "
"…hurriedly we went out into the street…. The object of the mob's hate was a hospital for sick Jewish children, many of them cripples or consumptives. In minutes the windows had been smashed and the doors forced. When we arrived the swine were driving the wee mites out over the broken glass, bare-footed and wearing nothing but their nightshirts. The nurses, doctors and attendants were being kicked and beaten by the mob leaders, most of whom were women." English reporter Michael Bruce, quoted in Baker, Leonard. Days of Sorrow and Pain. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978, page 231
Tonight is the 60th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the "Night of the Broken Glass," With methodical precision, during the night of Wednesday, November 9th, and early morning of Thursday, November 10th, 1938, SA, SS, and Nazi storm troopers, disguised in plain clothes, assembled in pre-arranged meeting places and fanned out to selected targets in the Jewish communities of Germany, Austria and occupied Sudetenland. Following Gestapo instructions, these Nazi agents axed windows, demolished furnishings, wrecked houses, smashed store fronts, ravaged merchandise, torched synagogues, and arrested thousands of Jews. As this well coordinated destruction took place, most "neighbors" just watched. This was the beginning of the Holocaust.
By Friday morning, November 11th, nearly 100 Jews were dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses had been destroyed, 275 synagogues had been razed or burned and 30,000 Jews had been arrested. The were forced to wear yellow stars over their hearts. The majority of those who were arrested were sent to the German concentration camps of Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald where they were killed.
On this night, Monday, December 9th, 1998, we the community of Whatcom and Skagit Counties remember. As we share our stories and our pain we will reassemble a window of broken glass, a sheet of glass of many sizes and pieces, a sheet of glass with a yellow star in its center, a yellow star not unlike the one that millions of Jews had to wear as they were marched to their deaths. Tonight we will remember. We will remember those who perished in the Holocaust. We will remember others who have been the victims of bigotry and hatred. We will remember and we will share. We will share our hope and our commitment, as free peoples, to never again permit such occurrences.
Memories will be read by Dr. Robert Keiper and Dr. Ray Wolpow of Woodring College, Rabbi Yossi Leibowitz of Congregation Beth Israel, Gabriel Mayers of Lummi High School and others members of the Whatcom County community.
Presentation of Kristallnacht Memorial: Dr. Ray Wolpow
Our community, like this memorial, is symbolically whole, though still scared by past bigotry and hate. The line between memory and history can be a very thin one. Tonight we can visit with those whose memories will some day be history. Let us share our stories. Let us listen. It is easiest to drive away the nightmares with respect for the dead and hope for the living. Let us heal. And then let us return home with hope.
After the Memoriam: At the conclusion of the memoriam, Hillel members welcome anyone who wishes to join them in a candlelight vigil in front of the PAC. This vigil will include poetry, Holocaust readings and recitation of the Mourner's Kaddish.
The many individuals and organizations in our community who helped make this evening possible. Special thanks to Rabbi Yossi Leibowitz and members of the Congregation Beth Israel. Rabbi Leibowitz was the originator of the idea for this glass memorial. Thanks to Dean Marrs of the Woodring College of Education for his support for diversity education. Thanks to the many student organizations who have affiliated themselves with the NWCHE for this event including, but not limited to: W.W.U. Hillel, Lutheran Student Movement, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transsexual Alliance, and the Center for Educational Pluralism. The list of other members of the Whatcom and Skagit County communities deserving recognition is too long for this limited space. To all that have made this night of remembrance and hope possible, your generosity is deeply appreciated.