Touro College Commemorates 76th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Community Captivated by Survivor Ruth Zimbler’s Eyewitness Account

November 17, 2014

Kristallnacht, or “Night of Shattering Glass,” refers to the events of November 10, 1938 in Germany and Austria, in which hundreds of Jews were murdered, and thousands of Jewish-owned stores, homes, and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed.

The keynote speaker was 86-year-old Ruth Zimbler, a Kindertransport survivor from Vienna, who shared her memories of that terrifying night.

“You could almost cut the fear with a knife,” she said.

Ten years old at the time, Zimbler recalled how the family’s apartment was looted and “a big, fat swastika” had been painted on the front door. She described standing outside, watching her synagogue go up in flames, the broken shards of the synagogue’s “gorgeous, gorgeous windows” littering the ground around her.

“Even to this day, I can still feel the crunch of that glass on my feet.”

The audience was comprised of a packed crowd of Touro College students, administration, faculty, and members of the local community. Speakers included Rabbi Moshe Krupka, executive vice-president of Touro College; Professor Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust; Professor Karen Sutton, director of the Honors program at Lander College for Women—The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School (LCW); Andrew Gross, political advisor to the Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York; and Esti Stollman, a student at LCW. The event was sponsored by Professor Anne Bayefsky; Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike, dean of LCW; Dr. Steven Huberman, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work; and Dr. Donne Kampel, associate dean of faculties and founder of the Women’s Leadership Council at Touro College.

Zimbler said she was privileged to share her experience and urged others to do the same.

“You have to be the torchbearers,” she said. “You have to be the ones to tell my story, from here on in.”