On Monday, November 19, 2012, the Farmington Libraries held its 6th Annual Kristallnacht lecture, featuring the the perspective of a German Holocaust survivor and an American combat medic who helped in the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp during World War II.
This year’s speakers were Ben Cooper, a lifelong resident of West Hartford, and Henny Markiewicz Simon, who was born and raised in Hanover, Germany.
Cooper was drafted into the army in September 1942, at which time he was sent to Camp Barkeley in Texas for medical training. He served in France and Germany as a combat medic in the 45th infantry division, and took park in the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp. Since 1990 he has been speaking to high school and college students as well as civic groups.
Simon is a Holocaust survivor. Her mother was murdered by the Nazis, according to a press release from the library, and she was imprisoned and later liberated in Poland. On Thanksgiving 1949, she and her family moved to America, where they bought a farm in Colchester. Since 1986 she has been speaking at schools and other facilities about her life.
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, was a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on November 9-10, 1938. German authorities looked on as SA paramilitary and civilians carried out these attacks and covered the streets with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues. At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, over 1,000 synagogues were burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged. This annual event at the Farmington Libraries commemorates the human spirit’s ability to overcome such persecution.
You may watch a video of this lecture on our Youtube channel.