Holocaust Survivor Who Returned to Germany as a U.S. Soldier to Speak at Kristallnacht Remembrance Service at Seton Hill, 11/8
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) at Seton Hill University will hold its annual Kristallnacht Remembrance Service on Tuesday, November 8, at 6:30 p.m. The featured speaker at this year’s service is Fritz Ottenheimer, a German Jew who fled his country at the beginning of World War II and later returned as a U.S. soldier, which he chronicles in his book “Escape and Return.” The service, which is open to the public, will be held in Seton Hill University’s Saint Joseph Chapel, located in the Administration Building on the University’s hilltop campus in Greensburg, Pa. Guest parking will be available in the employee parking lot; a shuttle will provide transportation to the Administration Building. For more information on the Kristallnacht Remembrance Service, please call the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at 724-830-1033 or visit www.setonhill.edu.
Over seventy years ago, on November 9 and 10, 1938, the Nazis burned synagogues, looted Jewish homes and businesses and murdered individuals throughout Germany, Austria and other Nazi controlled areas in a pogrom known as Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass.” The allusion is to the broken glass that littered the ground from the shattered windows of Jewish-owned businesses. This organized night of violence resulted in the deaths of 91 Jews, physical brutality toward many individuals, arrest of 30,000 Jewish males and the desecration or destruction of 267 synagogues.
Ottenheimer, who currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., will describe Kristallnacht as he and his family experienced it in Constance, Germany. Participating in the Kristallnacht Remembrance Service are Holocaust survivors Shulamit Bastacky of Pittsburgh, Pa., Francine Gelernter of Pittsburgh, Pa., Solange Lebovitz of Pittsburgh, Pa. and Sam and Goldie Weinreb of White Oak, Pa. Les Banos, of Pittsburgh, Pa., will also participate in the service; Banos, who was born in Hungary, was a rescuer and resistance fighter during World War II.
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) was established on the campus of Seton Hill University in 1987. Seton Hill initiated this national Catholic movement toward Holocaust studies in response to the urging of Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Shoah, the Holocaust, and to “promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today.” The NCCHE has as its primary purpose the broad dissemination of scholarship on the root causes of anti-Semitism, its relation to the Holocaust and the implications from the Catholic perspective of both for today's world. Toward this end the Center is committed to equipping scholars, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussion on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; shaping appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites; sustaining Seton Hill's Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel through a cooperative program with Yad Vashem, the Isaac Jacob Institute for Religious Law and Hebrew University; encouraging scholarship and research through conferences, publications, workshops for educators, and similar activities; sponsoring local events on the Holocaust and related topics in the University and the community and enhancing Catholic-Jewish relations.