'Kristallnacht' Commemoration Concert Is Held at Valley Beth Shalom

A survivor of the 1938 Nazi pogrom is among the audience members at the synagogue.

On November 8, people gathered at Valley Beth Shalom to commemorate 'Kristallnacht' (the 'Night of Broken Glass'). A musical program was put together by the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles to memorialize what was lost during the Nazis' anti-Jewish riots, known as pogroms, in Germany on November 9 and 10, 1938.

The name 'Kristallnacht' refers to the broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, cemeteries, schools, hospitals and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogroms. At least 91 Jewish people lost their lives. The Holocaust that followed claimed the lives of 6 million more.

Richard Braun, the chairman of the Jewish Music Commission, said that several survivors of the Holocaust, including Hellmuth Szprycer, who was in Berlin the night of Kristallnach, attended the concert. Szprycer was sent to a concentration camp at Thereisenstadt.

Szprycer was selected to go there because he was a musician, said Braun.

"Thereisenstadt was set up as a model camp by the Nazis to try to tell the world that things were not so bad," said Braun. "While there he played in a band, and met Viktor Ullmann, one of the composers whose composition was on [Thursday] night's program. They were both sent to Auschwitz—he survived, Ullmann did not. Szprycer is an amazing person—he lost all his family, but is so full of life and humor."

Music by Ben-Haim, Ullmann, Zemlinsky and Brahms was performed by Ron Selka, the principal clarinetist of the Israel Philharmonic, Brian Schuldt, cello, and Steven Vanhauwaert, piano.


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