Ottenheimer shared his memories of Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass,” at the annual Kristallnacht Remembrance Service in St. Joseph Chapel held by the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education. This year, the Service was held on November 4, during the Center’s Emerging Issues in Holocaust Education national conference. Fellow Holocaust survivors Robert Mendler, Shulamit Bastacky, Jack Sittsamer and Sam Weinreb joined Ottenheimer at the Service.

Ottenheimer’s father did return to his family, weak and ill from a month in a concentration camp. The family managed to emigrate to the U.S. shortly thereafter, where Ottenheimer enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school. He returned to Europe in 1945, and witnessed Nazi work and concentration camps with his own eyes. Many years later, he wrote the book “Escape and Return” about his experiences.

“Kristallnacht,” he states, “opened the door, for Hitler, to the Final Solution.”

The annual interfaith Kristallnacht Remembrance Service at Seton Hill commemorates the “six million Jewish men and women, one and half million children among them,” as well as the others who “ended their lives as victims of Nazism’s diabolically efficient technology of death.” It is also intended, in the words of Pope John Paul II, as a reminder that “remembering the Shoah [the Holocaust] means hoping it can never happen again, and working to ensure that it does not.”

This year’s Kristallnacht Remembrance Service was dedicated to Marga Randall, a Holocaust survivor and friend of the Center, who died November 24, 2005.

“I think that the bottom line has to be that we have to keep reminding the world that inhumane things can happen to people if others just stand by and let them happen…" – Marga Randall