Volume 95, Issue 38

Thursday, November 8, 2001
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O-Week money missing

JSU remembers 'night of broken glass'

The world at war

Disabled access still a problem at Western

Students can kiss jobs goodbye

$8.2 million for local science geeks

News Briefs

JSU remembers 'night of broken glass'

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

The Jewish Students' Union took time to hold a Kristallnacht memorial yesterday in the University Community Centre atrium.

"Today's Kristallnacht ceremony commemorates an event that occurred many years ago, yet still has a profound impact on today's society," said Josh Shuval, JSU president.

Kristallnacht, meaning "the night of broken glass," was one of the first major steps leading to the Holocaust, said JSU Holocaust awareness commissioner Michelle Strasberg.

On the night of Nov. 9 1938, gangs of Nazi youth roamed German Jewish neighbourhoods and damaged synagogues and business, set fires and looted, Strasberg said.

That night, 26,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

The guest speaker was Holocaust survivor Manny Langer, who spoke on his experiences as a young boy during the war.

Langer was born in Poland in 1929 and was 11-years-old when the Germans marched into his country.

All Jews, from infants to adults, were forced to wear the star of David on their arms and all businesses were labelled with the same Jewish symbol, he said.

A grocery store owned by Langer's family for over 20 years was eventually shut down and cleaned out.

In 1944, after living in a ghetto in Poland, Langer and most of his family were loaded into cattle trains bound for the concentration camp Auschwitz.

"[When the train pulled in], we saw thousands of women with shaved heads," he said, noting how confused they were at the site. He said his family did not know where they were headed.

Langer travelled back and forth between different camps over the years, but was constantly working seven days-a-week with little food.

When the British army liberated his camp in 1945, Langer travelled back to Poland where he found his two surviving sisters.

In 1946, an American official took Langer and other boys to the United States and schooled them in New York and Cleveland. In 1951, his sisters joined him in the U.S., at which time they moved to Toronto.

Langer said he went back to his hometown of Lodz this past May and was astonished a town that was once 99 per cent Jewish now had no Jews, as far as he knew.

The ceremony continued with singing from the London Community Hebrew Day School and concluded with the ceremonial breaking of a pane glass, which had the word "hate" written on it.

"The breaking of the glass not only symbolizes the glass that was broken at Jewish homes, synagogues and businesses on Nov. 9 and 10, 1933, but it also symbolizes the hope for the destruction of hate, which permeates our society at every level," Shuval said.

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