In 1938, Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass,” left behind shattered dreams and shattered lives in Hitler’s Germany.
On that night in November 70 years ago, following the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris by a young Jew, all synagogues in Germany were set on fire, windows of Jewish shops were smashed, and thousands of Jews were arrested. Over 30,000 Jewish men were forced into concentration camps, and 91 Jews were senselessly killed. The Holocaust had begun.
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) examines how some of those lives were put back together when it hosts a multimedia exhibit called “Last Days of the Four Seasons” by artist Rick Nahmias at 1 p.m. Sunday, November 9th, along with keynote speaker Beth Cohen.
The exhibit focuses attention on 44 acres in the Catskill Mountains where nearly 100 Polish, Russian and Hungarian Jews who survived the Nazi death camps and World War II bought The Four Seasons Lodge in 1978 and created an idyllic refuge where they could re-create their lives.
Nahmias discovered the lodge when a friend from college, Andrew Jacobs, wrote about The Four Seasons in The New York Times. Because Nahmias’s parents had met in the Eastern New York State Catskills resort area, he was immediately hooked.
“It was just a gold mine of stories,” says Nahmias. So he mined, visiting the group of survivors three different times in order to photograph and collect those stories.
Nahmias views his art as storytelling, saying, “Text is pulled from interviews and oral history. The photos always have a beginning, middle and end.”
Nahmias’s stories, and the story of survivors of The Four Seasons, will be on display showing close to 20 images, including some that are life-size.
All of these are part of a preview of the photographer’s upcoming show at the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta in April.
Accompanying the artwork, Beth Cohen, professor of Jewish Studies at Cal State Northridge, will deliver a keynote address, “Holocaust Survivors in Postwar America: Facts and Fictions of the Early Years,” in which she will examine the difficult path many survivors faced even after they came to America.
“One of the things that was so interesting to me was that the name ‘survivor’ came into our vernacular as an honoree, but that didn’t happen until much later,” explains Cohen. “We hear a lot of stories about successful survivors, and there are many, in America. We like happy endings, but I give a more nuanced look at success.”
Many millions were affected by the tragedies of Kristallnacht and the Holocaust. Many stories have been told. This Sunday, LMU’s Kristallnacht Commemoration will tell another tale.
The event is at 1 p.m. Sunday, November 9th, in the atrium of University Hall, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Westchester. Admission is free.
Information, (310) 338-7850, www.lmu.edu/.