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November 08. 2012 12:41AM

Kristallnacht remembrance tonight at Keene State College

KEENE - Tonight's annual remembrance of Kristallnacht at Keene State College includes an eye-witness account of the two nights that took place in Germany 74 years ago.

The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College and the Colonial Theatre are hosting Keene's annual Kristallnacht Remembrance tonight in the Colonial Theatre at 7 p.m.

Admission is free and the public is welcome. Event co-chairman Tom White, of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, said the center has been creating the community event in Keene for the past 15 years and typically draws 400 to 600 people.

The hour-long remembrance recalls Kristallnacht, a Nazi attack of Germany's Jewish population that took place Nov. 9 and 10 in 1938. Named Kristallnacht, or crystal night, for the enormous number of shop windows broken that night, the event was a series of coordinated attacks on the Jewish community in Germany in which the German authorities looked on without intervening.

Berlin, Germany, -born Stephan Lewy of Manchester, who as a child when he witnessed Kristallnacht, plans to attend and tell his story.

"He is an eyewitness to Kristallnacht. He was almost killed that night," White said.

Lewy escaped to the United States as a teenager and was later recruited by the U.S. Army. He was one of the Ritchie Boys, White said, a group of predominantly Jewish, German-speaking immigrants brought together to create a U.S. special military intelligence unit in World War II. At the end of the war, Lewy was deployed to Europe to help the Army emancipate concentration camps.

Also attending tonight is Fred Teeboom of Nashua. Teeboom was a "hidden child" in Holland during the Nazi persecution. Teeboom is participating in the candle lighting for remembrance, White said.

The annual event also has another component, White said. Alongside the remembrance, the community is actively engaging in creating a present and future free of hate and intolerance."We remember this as a human tragedy," White said. "The Jews are the targets for this, but the implications in a democracy are for us all to consider."

City officials

Keene Mayor Kendall W. Lane, police Chief Kenneth Meola and fire Chief Gary Lamoureux are attending to read their civic mission statements. "They pledge service to us and our community, to protect us," White said, the audience also participates with its own written pledge, "We say together, 'we remember.' .The entire audience says, 'We are responsible for each other."

Keene Middle School students are singing at the event and MoCo Arts dancers also plan to perform. They are joined by a guest cantor Sarra Stierer of Acton, Mass., who is originally from Manchester. Gunda Trepp, wife of Rabbi Leo Trepp, who was the last surviving rabbi who led a congregation in Nazi Germany during the early days of the Holocaust, plans to attend to honor her husband's legacy.

"His widow has flown from California to be with us," White said. "She will speak in the last section, which is 'how we make a difference, what do we do with this memory, how do we act on it today?'"

Katrina Swett, whose late father Tom Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor who served as a U.S. congressman, is also attending, White said.

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Meghan Pierce may be reached at mpierce@newstote.com.


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