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  • over1000

    synagogues burned to the ground

  • 7000

    Jewish-owned businesses
    vandalized or destroyed

  • 30thousand

    people were arrested and sent to concentration camps

Kristallnacht is the German word meaning "Night of Broken Glass." But for the Jews of Germany and Austria,
it meant the beginning of the end of their lives as they knew it.

About Company Biography

Our Live Discussion Streaming November 9, 2013

About Company Biography

About 'Kristallnacht 75'

The live streaming (broadcast) of the Kristallnacht 75 event

comes to you from:

Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette, Illinois

and is being funded by the generous contributions of the

Fern & Manfred Steinfeld Campaign Event Fund
of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago


The Marion & Al Gruen Philanthropic Fund

Al Gruen, Chairman of the event

Dr. Raphael Juss, Representative

Ken Cooper, Illinois Holocaust Museum Representative

Register for a Seat at the Event

Doors open at 5:30pm and will close at 6:30pm punctually. Late arrivals may not be seated.
We will be operating under strict security conditions and are asking for
everyone to please have your ticket handy and follow instructions from the security personnel.

The event is scheduled for Saturday November 9th, 2013.
Doors close at 6:30 PM.
The event starts at 7:00 PM and runs until 8:30 PM CST

Our Theme

The Relevance of Kristallnacht in the modern world.

Services What We Do

Rick Hirschhaut,
Executive Director

Rick Hirschhaut has served as Executive Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center since 2004. He oversaw all facets of the $50 million public-private initiative to build and establish the new center in the Chicago suburb of Skokie. Opened in April 2009 with the participation of President Bill Clinton and Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel, the Museum has become an essential destination for understanding the universal lessons of the Holocaust and addressing issues of intolerance and genocide in our world today.

Mr. Hirschhaut brings to the Museum three decades of human rights leadership, including over twenty years as a senior staff member of the Anti-Defamation League. A graduate of Tulane University, Mr. Hirschhaut studied also at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and holds degrees in International Relations and Judaic Studies. In 2011 he was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the new Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission, which he currently chairs.

Dr. Christian Brecht,
Consul General
of the Federal Republic of Germany
for the Middle West

Dr. Christian Brecht is the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chicago, Illinois. He was born in 1949 and lived in Wiesbaden and Offenbach. He is currently married and has two children. Dr. Brecht studied Law in Tübingen and at the University of Geneva. He has served in the Federal Foreign Services of Germany in various posts including Bonn and Berlin, Germany; Beijing, China; Rangoon, Myanmar; Santiago de Chile, Chile; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; Karachi, Pakistan and Ottawa, Canada.

Dr. Robert Pickard,
National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, COL (Retired)

Dr. Pickard graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine degree. He received his M.D. from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, IL in 1965. He interned at the University of Miami at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Pickard served in active duty from 1966-68 during the Vietnam War and was stationed at RAF Chicksands Dispensary in the midlands of England as the Medical Officer for that AF Security Service base.

After being discharged as a Captain from the USAF, Pickard returned to the University of Miami Medical School for a residency in general surgery, later specializing in ear, nose, and throat surgery. He began his practice of medicine and surgery in South Miami and Coral Gables in 1972. Pickard joined the Florida National Guard and served a total of 22 years in active National Guard service retiring as a Colonel 06 in 2000.

When the Nazis threatened to march in Skokie, IL in 1978, Pickard went to Chicago to face them. Under pressure from JWV and other organizations, the Nazis ultimately decided not to march in Skokie. As a counter to the Nazis, Pickard and Past National Commander Ainslee Ferdie decided to hold their own demonstration. Pickard and Ferdie drove to the National Socialist Party of America Headquarters in Marquette Park, Chicago where they staged their own march across the street.

Like all members of JWV, Pickard devotes a great deal of energy, caring, and passion to his community. He is a life member of Post 243 in Coral Gables, FL where he has previously served as Post Commander. At the National Level, Pickard has held positions as National Adjutant, Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Committee, a member of the National Executive Committee, and Past Editor of The Jewish Veteran. He is married to Susan Lemkin Pickard and has four daughters: Gabrielle, Annie, Teddi, and Beke.

Robert Watson,
Professor of American Studies at Lynn University

Robert Watson, Ph.D. is Professor of American Studies at Lynn University and an award-winning presidential historian with 34 books in print and hundreds of scholarly articles and book chapters on topics in politics and history. Watson is also a frequent commentator on television, radio, and print media, serves on the boards of several academic, community, and presidential foundations, and has won numerous awards including the International Abraham Lincoln award for his scholarly contributions to the study of the presidency, the Children's Hero Award for the many civics programs he offers to area school groups, the League of Women Voters' award for his civic engagement efforts in the community, and "Professor of the Year" at Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University multiple times.

Honorary Event Co-Sponsors

Herman Schaalman

Rolf Weil

Major Contributor to
Perpetual Kristallnacht Rememberance
Jack Heiman

Secretary of State
Jesse White

Brad Schneider

State Representative
Lou Lang

State Representative
Elaine Nekritz

Attorney General of Illinois
Lisa Madigan

Mayor of Forest Park
Anthony Calderone

Mayor of Libertyville
Terry Weppler

Mayor of Evanston
Elizabeth Tisdahl

Mayor of Lincolnwood
Gerald Turry

President of Wilmette
Bob Bielinski

Bishop Miller of
Metro Chicago Synod

Chicago Temple Pastor
Dr. Phil Blackwell

Kristallnacht Witness
Gerald Franks

Israeli Deputy Consul General to the Midwest
Alex Goldman-Shayman

Mayor of Skokie
George Van Dusen

Executive Director, Misericordia Home
Sr. Rosemary Connelly, RSM

President of the Village of Northfield
Fred Gougler

President of the Village of Northbrook
Sandy Frum

Alberto Mizrahi,

Greek-born tenor, Alberto Mizrahi, one of the world's leading interpreters of Jewish music, is Hazzan of the historic Anshe Emet Synagogue, Chicago. He has thrilled audiences worldwide in recitals, symphony concerts, and opera. His repertoire, spanning nine languages, makes his performances unique in the field.

He is featured on PBS television in CANTORS: a faith in song, and the PBS Hanukkah Special with Craig Taubman. He has performed and recorded with the legendary jazz pianist, Dave Brubeck and his quartet ("Gates of Justice") for the Milken Archive on the Naxos label, and with the great Theodore Bikel ("Our Song") for Opus Magica. He has also performed with major symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Europe and Israel, including the Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Haifa, Jerusalem, Barcelona, NDR-Hanover, Lithuanian National, Radio Television of Spain, Krakow, Warsaw and others.

Hazzan Mizrahi is an officer of the Cantors Assembly, on the Board of the Zamir Choral Foundation, Advisory Board of Genesis at the Crossroads and on the faculty of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School-J.T.S., N.Y.

Benjamin Warschawski,

Benjamin Warschawski is recognized worldwide for his extraordinary talents in both operatic and cantorial realms. The tenor has thrilled audiences worldwide in over twenty leading tenor roles. His operatic repertoire includes Alfredo in La Traviata, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Don José in Carmen, Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca, Manrico in Il Trovatore, Calaf in Turandot, and the title roles in Werther, Edgar and L'amico Fritz. He has graced such esteemed stages as New York City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Michigan Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Delaware and Austin Lyric Opera.

As a cantor, Warschawski began his journey to the pulpit as a teenager, singing in the prestigious Beth T'filoh Choir in Baltimore. In 1997 he received the title of Reverend Cantor from the Cantorial Council of America at the Belz School of Music, Yeshiva University. That same year he assumed the pulpit at The Ner Tamid/Greenspring Valley Synagogue in Baltimore, a post he held for five years, followed by a two year position at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida. Cantor Warschawski has concertized extensively with virtually every major cantor and renowned Jewish singer singing today. He currently holds the position of Chief Cantor at the prestigious Ezra Habonim/the Niles Township Congregation in Chicago, Illinois. Cantor Warschawski splits his time between Chicago and New York where he resides with his wife, Heather and daughter, Adina.

History Company Biography

Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.

On the evening of November 9, 1938 — and into the next day — life as they knew it was destroyed for the Jews of Germany and Austria. Throughout Germany and Austria, the Nazis staged pogroms, anti-Jewish riots. At least 91 Jews were murdered outright, over 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses damaged or destroyed, and Jewish homes, schools, and institutions ransacked. The numbers, however, do not tell the story. In Vienna alone, 94 synagogues and Jewish houses of worship were either partially or totally destroyed, burned in full view of fire departments and the public. The role of the fire departments in Austria, as in Germany, was to ensure that surrounding properties did not burn. The crime committed against a community by its government, was experienced by individuals, each experience unique.


The Jewish community in Germany began to take root in the fourth to tenth centuries of the common era. The first authentic document relating to Jews in Germany refers to Cologne on the Rhine and dates from 321 C.E. The late 18th and 19th centuries saw a period of Jewish emancipation, enlightenment and prosperity in Germany. Jewish Germans experienced success in all fields of endeavor. They were at the forefront of science, business and the arts. Notable individuals such as Albert Einstein and Martin Buber spent much of their lives in Germany, being shaped by, as well as helping to shape, the culture of Germany and Austria. Loyal citizens, many of Germany and Austria's Jews were also proud to serve their countries in the First World War, fighting and dying along side their Protestant and Catholic neighbors and colleagues. Germany's loss in the war, coupled with the severe terms of the Treaty of Versailles, led to many fringe groups, each with their own brand of nationalism and espousing their own solutions for Germany's real and imagined troubles. Germany's situation worsened exponentially in the Great Depression. The German Worker's Party (predecessor to the Nazi) party had 54 members when Adolf Hitler joined in 1919. By the end of 1920, the renamed National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP or Nazi) had 3,000 members. On November 8-9, 1923 there was an attempt by the NSDAP to violently overthrow the government, first in Bavaria, then at the national level in Berlin. This attempt failed and resulted in Hitler's arrest. Hitler served 264 days of his five year sentence, and enjoyed special treatment, visitors and luxuries not afforded to other prisoners. While in prison in Landsberg, he authored Mein Kampf together with Rudolph Hess and others. The book spelled out his racial theories, hatred of Communists and Jews, who he labeled as traitors, as well as his blueprint for the future of Germany. By 1932, a scant 13 years after becoming the 55th member, Hitler, who had been released from prison in 1924, had grown the party to over 1 million members. The votes that the Nazis received in the 1932 elections established the Nazi Party as the largest parliamentary faction of the Weimar Republic government. Adolf Hitler was appointed as Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. After effectively eliminating any opposition within the government, the Nazis were free to enact anti-Semitic legislation, with the goal of encouraging Germany's Jews to emigrate.

Legislative Anti-Semitism

At first the Nazis confined their anti-Semitic activities to the legal and legislative front. From 1933 until the outbreak of war in 1939, over 400 decrees and regulations restricted all aspects of the public and private lives of Germany's Jews. While many of these laws were national and had been issued by the German administration and affected all Jews, in addition there were state, regional, and municipal officials, who, on their own initiative, enacted exclusionary decrees in their own communities. This legislation was not unique to Germany. Having annexed Austria on March 13th to widespread support, the Germans quickly codified legislative anti-Semitism in Austria. In April, this German annexation, known as the Anschluss, was retroactively approved in a direct vote by the Austrian people on this question. The vote was manipulated to reflect that approximately 99 percent of the Austrian people wanted this union with Germany. Jews and Roma (Gypsies) were not allowed to vote on this matter. When all is said and done, hundreds of bureaucrats at all levels of municipal, state, regional and national government throughout Germany were involved in the persecution of Jews as they enacted and enforced anti-Jewish legislation. Germany's treatment of the Jews under its control led to a world-wide refugee situation. As the conditions for the Jews under Nazi control worsened, country after country, including the United States, refused to alter immigration quotas to allow Germany's Jews to escape Nazi persecution. In an effort to resolve the refugee situation, representatives from thirty-two countries met at the French resort of Evian in July of 1938. During the nine day conference, delegate after delegate expressed sympathy for the plight of the refugees. However, the result of the conference was discouraging. With the exception of the Dominican Republic, no country, including the United States and England, agreed to alter quotas to allow Jewish refugees to enter.

The Shift to Violent Anti-Semitism

The Nazi government, emboldened by the results at Evian, decided to act on its conclusion that the now-trapped Jews were not leaving Germany either fast enough or in great enough numbers. As mid-1938 approached, plans had been drawn up for anti-Jewish actions, or pogroms. Hitler, partly because of Evian, felt that the world had given him a free hand in handling Germany's "Jewish problem". November 9, which loomed large in National Socialist lore, was selected as the date for the action. All that was needed was a pretext (although the Nazis claimed that the riots of Kristallnacht were spontaneous). The pretext came on the morning of November 7th, when a young Jew named Herschel Grynszpan, upset over his family's deportation from Germany to Poland, purchased a revolver, a box of bullets, and went to the German embassy in Paris. Grynszpan asked to see an embassy official, and was taken to see Ernst vom Rath. Grynszpan allegedly fired five shots at vom Rath, striking him twice. Vom Rath died of his wounds on November 9th. The Nazis now had their pretext and timing for the progroms. Ironically, vom Rath, who had been under investigation by the Gestapo, became the martyr and pretext for the worst (to date) pogrom in history.

Kristallnacht and the Holocaust Today

Reflecting on the experiences of Kristallnacht, and the Holocaust as a whole, it is important to be able to make connections to today's political and social environments. While the Holocaust was a result of a certain time and place, the human behavior that fueled such atrocities remain with us today, as evidenced by events seen all over the world. The experience of Germany's and Austria's Jewish communities was the direct result of institutionalized, legislated racism and hatred directed at a minority by its government. It is the responsibility of citizens in a democracy to ensure that the rights of the weakest are protected, and that the rights of a minority never be put to the popular vote of the majority. Many of today's tragedies are a result of the same mindset, a misguided belief that does not allow for the people of the world to live together peacefully. Hopefully, by presenting this history and reminding the world of what can happen when such ideologies take control, the phrase "Never Again" will be heard around the world.

News Latest Posts

Voices from the Past

A Musical Sampling of pre-Kristallnacht German-Jewish Music
by composers Lewandowski, Sulzer, Naumbourg and others.

Musical Renditions at This Event

We are proud to announce that music for our event will be provided by two world renowned Cantors. We welcome Cantor Alberto Mizrahi and Cantor Benjamin Warschawski, accompanied by a choir, to our event.