Students, faculty, staff and community members remembered Kristallnacht at Sacred Heart University’s annual commemoration ceremony Nov. 9 at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.
The cloudy, damp day set the mood for Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass. It refers to the night of Nov. 9, 1938, when Nazis broke the windows of Jewish businesses, school and synagogues, littering glass in the streets. The violence resulted in death, arrests and the beginning of the Holocaust.
Sacred Heart’s somber occasion started with psalms sung by the University’s Liturgical Choir and passages read by various students, faulty and staff. Then Fr. Tony Ciorra, interim vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity, introduced the event’s guest speaker, Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg.
Mosberg, a 90-year-old New Jersey resident, lived through the Holocaust and vividly remembers what he endured. He showed the crowd in the chapel several artifacts including the uniform, a wire bracelet and a cap he wore, bricks from the crematorium where his family members were murdered, utensils used at Auschwitz, a brush and a whip.
“I was beaten by four men with this kind of whip,” Mosberg said. “It was 70 years ago and I did not forget. At that time, I was hoping that they’d kill me because once you are dead you don’t feel the pain. But I survived this and I survived many things…And I’m here to tell you what happened.”
With great emotion, Mosberg recalled his time in the concentration camp. “I wish I didn’t have to stand here and talk about the Holocaust and could say that the Holocaust never happened, but it did happen,” Mosberg said.
He talked about family members he lost and the many times he thought he was going to die. “As long as I live, my obligation and my duty is to talk about the atrocities committed to my family and six million other Jews,” he said.
At the end of his speech, the audience stood to give Mosberg an ovation. The event concluded with more readings and psalms. Nicole Giordano, a sophomore studying nursing, spoke. “History has taught us to understand the consequences of the Holocaust so it doesn’t happen again,” she said. She thanked Mosberg and told him that his story is more important than those read in history books. She also thanked SHU President John J. Petillo for creating an inclusive environment and ensuring events like the Kristallnacht commemoration exist on campus. “Our job is now to take the knowledge and make sure something like this never happens again,” Giordano reiterated.
Afterward, as people had refreshments in the narthex, Giordano called Mosberg’s presentation, “extremely powerful.” She added, “He didn’t sugarcoat his story, and I think that was good.”
Trevor O’Brien, a sophomore math major who also spoke at the event, noted that Mosberg was angry at times during his talk, which made the words even more moving. “It wasn’t just a reflection on the Holocaust; he really talked about what happened,” O’Brien said.
To view additional photos from the event, click here.