It is Nov 5, 2013 at Seton Hill University. I am at a service of rememberance for Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass and a night that shattered any illusions about the future of German Jews. There is lighting of candles, readings, and songs of peace. The atmosphere is solemn and dignified, the audience made up of people of all races, many young. There is a meaningful presentation by Mr. Fritz Ottenheimer, a German Jew who escaped right before the war broke out and came to the US. There are presentations of the Ethel LeFrak Outstanding Student Scholars of the Holocaust awards.
I hear a reader say “You lay me in the dust of death” and I hear whispering voices coming from the depths of human cruelty. They are the voices of my father, my sister, my grandfather and extended family and the voices of millions like them who endured isolation, degradation, humiliation, starvation, week long trips in boxcars to unknown destinations, physical abuse for “medical experiments”, and the long scream of “Had we known what was coming we would have wished for death!” I hear the voices of infants in hiding places, silenced by their mothers so as not to betray the rest. I hear the voices of the prettiest woman in town, forced to the police station, raped, stripped naked, then forced to walk out into the marketplace where she was shot in the back. Wouldn’t she have wished to be dead before that?
Another reader leads us in reciting words found on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, where Jews hid from the Nazis:
I believe, I believe in the sun even when it is not shining,
I believe in love even when feeling it not.
I believe in God even when God is silent.
After note: At this event, my fellow Holocaust survivors and I had the honor of meeting Sister Gemma del Duca, co-founder and co-director [Israel] of The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education. We were also interviewed by Seton Hill University Students. The Event left an indelible impression on us.