On November 7th, The Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University and the Executive Committee of the Holocaust Resource Center presented a lecture remembering Kristallnacht. Associate Professor of History at Stockton University and Director of the Holocaust Survivors of South Jersey Project and Exhibition, Dr. Michael Hayse gave the lecture about the Jewish people who were impacted in Germany and Austria and were able to leave Nazi-occupied Europe and emigrate to South Jersey.
Three years ago, Dr. Hayse, with the support of Stockton undergraduate and graduate students, began the Holocaust Survivors of South Jersey Project and Exhibition to maintain the remembrance of South Jersey Holocaust survivors. The project serves as an archive of Holocaust survivors that escaped to South Jersey in the Atlantic and Cape May counties. The project started with a handful of volunteers and about 125 names— today, there is a growing archive of about 1,556 Holocaust survivors.
“Childhood Frankfurt” by Wally Hammerschlag was read during the lecture and depicted the story of the terrifying events leading up to Kristallnacht and the events that transpired with the rise of Hitler.
On November 9th and 10th of 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a series of organized murders against the Jewish population in Germany and other occupied territories. This came to be known as Kristallnacht or “The Night of Broken Glass,” from the shattered glass that littered the streets after the attacks. Major acts of violence, planned and carefully executed, were spread across the country targeting Jews and Jewish-owned buildings, businesses, and synagogues.
The violence targeted Jewish houses, institutions, businesses, apartments, orphanages, and more. Organized theft and destruction of property was another part of the executed plan of Kristallnacht. This violence led to the mass arrest of roughly 30,000 Jews simply for being Jewish; the true numbers are still unknown because many Jews were subsequently sent to concentration camps.
The audience was also able to get a first look at the Holocaust Survivors of South Jersey Project and Exhibition’s work that they are compiling to share with the public. One piece was an interactive, digital archive of stories of Holocaust survivors with context to the geographical position and historical context of events such as Kristallnacht.
There are many ways for students to get involved with this project to archive the stories and lives of Holocaust survivors in South Jersey. Dr. Hayse and his team are more than happy to share the stories of any and all survivors with anyone interested. There is currently construction going on to bring a dedicated space to display the whole digital archive with other resources from the work of Holocaust Survivors of South Jersey Project and Exhibition. Students who are interested can reach out to Dr. Hayse at Michael.Hayse@stockton.edu and check out https://stockton.edu/holocaust-resource/sjhsp.html.
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