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Kristallnacht to be noted with interfaith commemoration, and film about ‘Righteous Gentile’

A scene from the movie “The Light of Hope,” which will premiere locally on Nov. 12 as part of an interfaith commemoration of Kristallnacht.

Kristallnacht’s 81st anniversary will be noted in this area with an interfaith commemoration, which will include a showing of the film The Light of Hope” on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in Page Hall on University at Albany downtown campus, 135 Western Ave., Albany. The commemoration is free and open to the public. “This is the 27th   anniversary of the Kristallnacht Interfaith Confronting Bigotry Commemoration of the Capital Region, sponsored to unite the community against prejudice,” said Shelly Shapiro, director of the by Holocaust Survivors and Friends Education Center. 

Eighty-one years ago, Nov. 9-10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious attacks or pogroms against Jews in Germany and Austria in riots that came to be known as Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass.”  It would later become known by many as the “Night the Holocaust Began.” On that date hundreds of synagogues and businesses were destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men and boys were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

“The Light of Hope” is based on the true story of Red Cross nurse Elisabeth Eidenbenz (1913-2011) and her female co-workers who saved the lives of 600 infants during World War II. In the early 1940s, refugees from throughout Europe sought shelter in South Western France to escape persecution from the Nazis and Franco. Some were pregnant, and some were accompanied by their children. All were in need of protection. Eidenbenz transformed an old villa into a birth clinic, the Elne Maternity Home. She saved the lives of many mothers and children from death, making a safe haven for them. Authorities in Nazi-occupied France soon demanded that she hand over all Jewish refugees and their children. Eidenbenz and her staff risked their lives to keep the maternity home going.

The 2018 Spanish film was directed by Silvia Quer and is 96 minutes. It is in Spanish, Catalan and French with English subtitles.

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.

The Kristallnacht commemoration will feature Holocaust survivors and representatives of faith groups from throughout the entire region.

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