Seventy years ago on November 9 and 10, 1938, Nazis burned synagogues, looted Jewish homes and businesses, and murdered individuals throughout Germany, Austria and other Nazi controlled areas in a pogrom that came to be called Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass.” (The allusion is to the broken glass that littered the ground from the shattered windows of Jewish-owned businesses.)
The speaker at this year’s Kristallnacht Remembrance Service is Fritz Ottenheimer. The author of “Escape and Return,” Ottenheimer is a German Jew who fled his country at the beginning of World War II and later returned as a U.S. soldier. Ottenheimer currently resides in Pittsburgh. Also participating in the Kristallnacht Remembrance Service are Holocaust survivors Robert Mendler of Latrobe, Pa., Shulamit Bastacky of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Goldie Weinreb of White Oak, Pa.
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) was established on the campus of Seton Hill University in 1987. Seton Hill initiated this national Catholic movement toward Holocaust studies in response to the urging of Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Shoah, the Holocaust, and to "promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today." The NCCHE has as its primary purpose the broad dissemination of scholarship on the root causes of anti-Semitism, its relation to the Holocaust, and the implications from the Catholic perspective of both for today's world. Toward this end the Center is committed to equipping scholars, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussion on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; shaping appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites; sustaining Seton Hill's Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel through a cooperative program with Yad Vashem, the Isaac Jacob Institute for Religious Law, and Hebrew University; encouraging scholarship and research through conferences, publications, workshops for educators, and similar activities; sponsoring local events on the Holocaust and related topics in the University and the community, and enhancing Catholic-Jewish relations.