On Nov. 9, 1938, Nazi soldiers and sympathizers throughout Germany smashed the windows and doors of thousands of Jewish-owned businesses, set more than 900 synagogues ablaze, and rounded up 30,000 Jewish men to cart off to concentration camps. The rest of the world saw what happened and remained silent. From Sept. 15 through Dec. 20, arts organizations in Central Florida will present programming in conjunction with the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida’s annual commemoration of that dark night known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass.
“We remember Kristallnacht for all of those terrible nights between 1935 and 1945,” says Susan Mitchell, project director at the Holocaust Memorial Resource Center. Between 1935 and 1938, the Nazi regime passed ever more laws to limit the rights of Jewish citizens. When a young Jewish man assassinated a German diplomat to draw international attention to German Jews’ plight, the state security service initiated a massive crackdown.
“It was a night that in some ways was no different than other nights that followed – destruction of property, the arrest of people, pillaging and murders – but we remember [Kristallnacht] because it was probably the most widely publicized event of that era. … [Even] the front page of the Dallas Morning News reported on the assaults on the Jewish community by Nazis and brownshirts, and yet the world didn’t respond,” Mitchell says. To remedy that in some way, the Holocaust Center (along with survivors’ groups around the world) has commemorated Kristallnacht for the past 30 years. This year they’ve partnered with the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Bach Festival Society, the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation and other Central Florida arts organizations to present programming for Kristallnacht’s 75th anniversary.
The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College hosts the exhibition Auktion 392: Reclaiming the Galerie Stern, Düsseldorf. The exhibit (which opens Tuesday, Sept. 17, and runs through Dec. 8) tells the story of the artworks plundered from the gallery run by Max Stern, who under Nazi law lost the right to own a business. Like many others, the gallery’s collection was forcibly auctioned off. A re-creation of the auction environment, including images of the lots, forms one of three modules of the exhibit, which also documents efforts to recover the Stern collection and other stolen works. A panel discussion Sept. 17 will address recent efforts to return art stolen under ostensibly legal auspices to its rightful owners.
On Nov. 9 and 10, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park performs the oratorio A Child of Our Time, by Sir Michael Tippett, who wrote both the score and libretto about Kristallnacht between 1939 and 1941. The work incorporates structural elements from Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Passions while using African-American spirituals as melodic source material. This association with the pathos of spirituals inspired another collaboration for the Holocaust Resource Center – a program of spirituals presented by the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation at Eatonville’s Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Oct. 6 adds another dimension to the three-month commemoration of Kristallnacht.
Perhaps the most straightforward and powerful event in the series will be the panel discussion by survivors of the Holocaust who now live in Central Florida. The discussion, to be held Oct. 27 at the Holocaust Center, offers a rare chance to hear first-person accounts of life under the horrific injustices of the Third Reich.
There is a real need to overcome indifference and understand this frighteningly recent point in human history, to look over the fences between us and our past. That’s as true of Central Florida today – with social media showing us stories from our preferred perspectives in our neighborhoods full of people we’ve never met – as it was of Germany in 1938. “Whether we’re talking about [what’s happening in] the Middle East or we’re talking about bullying on a playground, we have a moral responsibility to look at the health and safety of other people,” says Mitchell. “I think we often lose that.”
KRISTALLNACHT 2013 EVENTS
Kristallnacht: In Remembrance
Juried art exhibition features 18 artists, including locals. Sept. 15
through Dec. 20; Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 407-628-0555; holocaustedu.org; free
Panel of Local Holocaust Survivors
Firsthand accounts by survivors living in Central Florida. 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27; Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 407-628-0555; holocaustedu.org; free
BESA: The Promise
Tells the story of Albanian Muslims who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. Noon Sunday, Nov. 3; Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; 407-629-0054; enzian.org; $10
Presentation by the beloved and world-renowned Israeli-American violinist. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7; Warden Arena, Alfond Sports Center at Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park; 407-646-2000; rollins.edu/wpi; free
A Child of Our Time
Michael Tippett’s oratorio based on the events of Kristallnacht. 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10; Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park; 407-646-2182; bachfestivalflorida.org; $25-$55
Auktion 392: Reclaiming the Galerie Stern, Düsseldorf
Exhibition tells the story of the forced sale of artwork stolen by the Nazis. Sept. 17-Dec. 8; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park; 407-646-2526; rollins.edu/cfam; free
The Rape of Europa
Documentary film about the looting of art by the Third Reich. 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park; 407-646-2526; rollins.edu/cfam; free
Narrated Recital: With Songs in Our Hearts
Negro Spiritual Scholarship winners perform. 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6; Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 412 E. Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville; 407-647-0010; negrospiritual.org/calendar-of-events; free
Community Book Club
Discussion of Elie Wiesel’s “Night” trilogy. 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22; Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 407-628-0555; holocaustedu.org; free
“America’s Response to the Holocaust”
Lecture presented by Ian Gold of Orange County Public Schools. 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10; Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 407-628-0555; holocaustedu.org; free
“Memories of Kristallnacht: Last Glimpses of a Dying World”
Lecture presented by Mitch Bloomer of the Holocaust Center. 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5; Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 407-628-0555; holocaustedu.org; free
Exhibition tells the life stories of Holocaust survivors living in Central Florida. Nov. 4-15; Orlando City Hall Rotunda, 400 S. Orange Ave.; 407-246-4279; cityoforlando.net; free