ALBANY– To note Kristallnacht, Nov. 9-10, 1938, this year, for the 29th time, the Interfaith Confronting Bigotry Commemoration of the Capital Region is sponsoring a program in hopes of uniting the community against prejudice. The event will be held at Page Hall on the University at Albany’s downtown campus, 135 Western Ave., Albany on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m.
The free program will feature the area premiere of “An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines,” a feature-length documentary on how the Philippines rescued more than 1,300 European Jews fleeing the Holocaust before 1941. It will also feature presentations by several Holocaust survivors and members of the community, representing many of the faith groups of the region, and will be free and open to the public.
Eighty-three years ago on Nov. 9-10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious attacks — called pogroms — against Jews in Germany and Austria in riots that came to be known as Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass.” Often considered as the “night the Holocaust began,” synagogues and businesses were destroyed and 30,000 Jewish men and boys were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The film shares the story of how the Philippines, through the actions of its President Manuel L. Quezon, in 1939 allowed Jewish refugees with visas to travel to the then commonwealth of the U.S. The film shares information from survivors, family members, and historians. An “Open Door” is the story of a friendship borne of common adversity and intense love for freedom, according to organizers. The descendants of the 1,300 survivors now number more than 11,000.
Many Holocaust survivors were children when they arrived. They were welcomed by the Filipinos, until the Japanese invasion began on Dec. 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the Japanese occupation, many Westerners from Allied countries were held in prison camps.
In an ironic twist, German Jews were seen simply as Germans by the Japanese and permitted to remain free. In the Philippines, it was the German Jews who were able to offer some small measure of help to their imprisoned friends.
The program is sponsored by Holocaust Survivors and Friends Education Center, the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, and the Judaic studies program of the University at Albany.