NYC Tech recalls the Nazi horror of Kristallnacht

December 2, 2012 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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In observance of Kristallnacht, New York City Technical College told the harrowing story of Dr. Roald Hoffmann, a child survivor of the Holocaust. 

Kristallnacht — “Night of the Broken Glass” — given the name to a series of pogroms staged during the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, against the Jewish communities of Germany  because of the countless broken windows — of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes that were plundered and destroyed. During this tragedy. Countless lives were lost and oppressive policies against Jews followed, culminating in the Holocaust, the state-sponsored genocide of the Jewish people.

Since the spring of 2001, Dr. Roald Hoffmann, now Nobel Laureate in Chemistry at Cornell University, had been the host of a monthly series of programs at the Cornelia Street Café called “Entertaining Science,” which explores the juncture between the arts and sciences in a delightful manner that provides a serious introduction to science.

Dr. Hoffmann’s presentation will focus on his harrowing experiences during World War II as well as on his education and early experiences after coming to America in 1949.

During the Holocaust in Zloczów, Poland an Ukrainian neighbor teacher’s family, the Dyuk’s, hid Hoffman, his mother, two uncles and an aunt in the unlit attic and then a storeroom of the local village schoolhouse.

According to Yad Vashem’s records the family was first recognized by the Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations [recognizing those non-Jews, who risked their lives to save to save Jews during the Holocaust] in 2007 and the Righteous Among the Nations Medal was presented to their daughter. Mykola died in 1972; and his wife, Maria, in 1983.

Hoffman visited Zloczów with his adult son (then a parent of a five-year-old) in 2006 and found that the attic where he had hidden was still intact, but the storeroom had been incorporated, ironically enough, into a chemistry classroom. In 2009, a monument to Holocaust victims was built in Zloczów on Hoffmann’s initiative.

Introducing Dr. Hoffmann will be Robin Hirsch, writer, theater director and co-owner of Cornelia Street Café here in New York City, and author of Last Dance at the Hotel Kempinski. In his Nobel Lecture, Dr. Hoffmann spoke of building bridges between two realms of chemistry. It has been said that he also builds bridges between science and the humanities. Dr. Hoffmann will receive JFSA’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award.

Following Dr. Hoffmann’s presentation, City Tech English Professor Jane Mushabac, Cornell alumna and past City Tech Scholar on Campus a discussion will moderate a discussion.

She has been a Fellow of the Mellon Foundation and of the NEH, and has a BA magna cum laude from Cornell, an MA from Harvard and a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center. She is associate professor of English at City Tech where she was the 2011 Scholar on Campus.

This City Tech event commemorating the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht begins at 12:45  p.m. in the College’s Atrium Amphitheater, 300 Jay Street. Admission is free.

This program’s primary sponsor is the City Tech Jewish Faculty & Staff Association (JFSA). Event co-sponsors, in alphabetical order, include: ADL/Hidden Child Foundation,  Baruch College Jewish Studies Center, Cornell Hillel: The Yudowitz Center for Jewish Campus Life, Cornell Office of Alumni Affairs, Education Update, Facing History and Ourselves, Foundation for Jewish Culture, Interfaith Committee of Remembrance, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Macaulay Honors College/CUNY and Simon Wiesenthal Center – Museum of Tolerance New York.

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