ALBUQUERQUE —Seventy-six years ago, on the nights of November 9-10, 1938, some 7,500 Jewish glass store windows were shattered, over 1000 synagogues were burned, homes were ransacked, many were killed and 30,000 Jewish men were taken to concentration camps. Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, as it came to be known, was a sweeping pogram carried out throughout Germany and annexed areas of Austria and Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s paramilitary soldiers, the SA, known as the Storm Troopers, and the Hitler Youth, and marked the beginning of Hitler’s Final Solution and the Holocaust. On the anniversary, Sunday, November 9th, 2014, The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico presented “Kristallnacht Remembrance, The Night of Broken Glass 9th-10th November, 1938,” to a full house at Congregation Albert in Albuquerque
Speakers, as pictured left to right, included Bonnie Weinstein, co-founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who underscored that anti-Semitism continues today in New Mexico. She shared her experiences of repeated anti-Semitic attacks on her home in New Mexico including bullets fired through their windows and the indifference of the local authorities, and also announced the publication of her new book, “To the Far Right Christian Hater: You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can’t be Both,” a collection of the hate letters they have received, which is also available on the MRFF.org website along with books by Mikey Weinstein.
Werner Gellert, co-founder of the Holocaust Museum, shared a moving video interview of his vivid childhood memories in Breslau as he lived through the moments of Kristallnacht. He described how his family was so assimilated into German life at that time that at first his mother would not believe him and slapped him for telling a lie when he told her that their beautiful synagogue was burning and the SA were dancing around a pile of burning prayer books. But then his family’s home was ransacked and his father taken away — they later escaped to Shanghai.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the nationally-recognized Military Religious Freedom Foundation, whose organization protects the religious rights of military persons and has been repeatedly nominated for a Nobel Prize, was introduced.
Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center from Montgomery, Alabama, gave the keynote speech and presented a slideshow of the Center’s history as the need to protect rights following the signing of the Civil Rights Act became apparent and continues up to the present day. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks the activities of hate groups who commit violent hate crimes in the country, and educates law-enforcement on how very dangerous they are and the murders they commit.
Jerry Small, Holocaust and Intolerance Museum Board Vice-President, following the welcome by Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld, gave an energetic overview of the program and in closing, spoke of how we all must make a difference and invited the audience to volunteer with and donate to the non-profits set up at tables in the social hall during the reception that followed. An exhibit of historical photos was also on display from the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum that showed the events that befell Jews during the Nazi era.
The Holocaust & Intolerance Museum board and staff today includes Jennie Negin, President, Jerry Small, Richard Roy, Marcia Rosenstein, Werner Gellert, Steve Barberio, Peter Eller, Jeffrey Lucero, Linney Wix, and Daniel Wolfskehl.
Museum exhibits include many unique exhibits about the Holocaust, and also displays about the Native American genocide, the Armenian Genocide, the Greek Genocide, and an extensive library, educational resources, and tours for schools.
Museum president Jenny Negin says she would like to see the two small displays about the genocide against Native Americans expanded with help from Native American leaders. Currently these exhibits include photos and information about The Long Walk, when the highly spiritual Navajo people were rounded up by the infamous Kit Carson and forced to walk across Arizona and New Mexico to a concentration camp at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico, where they were kept for four years along with other tribes brought there, and another display, about the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota.
Visit the museum at 616 Central Ave. SW, Albuquerque, NM, 87102, open Tues-Sat 11-3:30, tel 505.247.0606, and visit online at nmholocaustmuseum.org to see current and upcoming projects of the museum.
#Diane Schmidt is a nationally award-winning writer and photojournalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a regular contributor and columnist to the daily newspaper, The Gallup Independent, and to the monthly The New Mexico Jewish Link. She received first place for enterprise reporting in 2014 from the National Federation of Press Women and the New Mexico Press Women organizations for her series on the Con Man Red Feather, first place for reporting from the Native American Journalists Association for her coverage of the Swastika branding hate crime, a Robert R. McCormick Fellowship to the Poynter Institute for a specialized reporting institute on child sexual abuse. and previously, a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts fellowship in Photography for her series of photos of Chicago at night taken while driving a taxi the night shift the winter of 1983, published later as her first of five cover stories for the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine.
A related program Healing the Wounds of History, The Long Walk and the Holocaust, also was presented at Congregation Albert recently and the Examiner article published here “Healing the Wounds of History, the Long Walk and the Holocaust,” received widespread attention, including a column by national Huffington Post columnist Tim Giago, “Where the paths of the Jews and Navajo crossed.”