The Sacred Heart community commemorated Wednesday the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht—the 48-hour period in November 1938 in Germany when 1,000 synagogues were burned or otherwise damaged, about 7,500 Jewish business were looted, and Jewish hospitals, homes, schools and cemeteries were vandalized. In addition, at least 91 Jews were killed, and approximately 30,000 Jewish men, ages 16 to 60, were arrested.
During his opening remarks SHU President John J. Petillo noted that the pogrom, named Kristallnacht for “night of the broken glass,” ended life for the Jews of Germany as they had previously known it.
A full house in University Commons watched the documentary movie Defiant Requiem, the story of a group of Jewish prisoners—most doomed to die in the gas chambers at Auschwitz—who while at the Czech prison camp of Terezín in 1944 performed Verdi's Requiem before the very Nazis who had condemned them to death. The piece, which was originally intended as a musical rendition of the Catholic funeral mass, had been turned by Czech opera-choral conductor Rafael Schächter into a proclamation of the prisoners’ unbroken spirit and a warning of God’s coming wrath against their captors.
Following the film, the audience heard from distinguished conductor, educator and artistic innovator Murry Sidlin who the film depicts bringing a full orchestra and the Catholic University of America’s chorale ensemble—along with surviving members of Schächter's chorus—back to Terezín to perform the Requiem once more, this time in tribute to those who had sung it there before.
Also, fittingly, during the program, the crowd was treated to moving musical performances by the SHU Choirs.
To view additional photos from the event, click here.