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Author to give Kristallnacht talk

Forest Hills residents will remember Kristallnacht Nov. 11, when Pulitzer Prize−nominated author Eva Fogelman, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, will speak at the Central Queens YM & YWHA in Forest Hills about individuals who rescued Jews during World War II.

Fogelman, author of “Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust,” will discuss “what makes the difference between someone who chose to act and the person who stood by,” said Peggy Kurtz, a Hevesi Jewish Heritage librarian coordinating the event that will begin at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 11, one day after the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Kristallnacht, which means “night of broken glass,” is often marked as the first event of the Holocaust. On Nov. 9−10, 1938, about 200 synagogues and thousands of Jewish−owned shops and homes throughout Germany were ransacked and tens of thousands of people were sent to concentration camps.

“Many people have no specific date on which to mark the death of their loved ones because they don’t know the date when their loved ones died,” Kurtz said. “So Kristallnacht becomes the date they mark their loved ones’ deaths and remember them. We have a lot of survivors and refugees in this community. There are people who have been in concentration camps or were hidden. This program will remember the Holocaust, and we feel it’s extremely important to honor the tremendous courage of those who risked their lives to save people.”

A psychologist who has a private practice in Manhattan, Fogelman used her experience as a therapist treating Holocaust survivors and rescuers to understand what made certain individuals risk their lives to help others.

The question of what drove some people to save lives surfaced among Forest Hill residents last spring, Kurtz said.

“We had a program on Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese consul in Lithuania in World War II, who wrote visas for 2,000 people against the orders of his government,” Kurtz said. “He was even writing them and handing them out of the train window as he was leaving. At that program, we had Masha Leon, a journalist who was one of the people saved by his visas. This was a program people spoke of for weeks afterward and the program led to questions of what motivated this person.”

Compelled by those questions, Kurtz said she wanted to have the “person who’s the authority on this subject, Eva Fogelman” speak in Forest Hills.

Fogelman is also the writer and co−producer of the award−winning PBS film “Breaking the Silence: The Generation After the Holocaust” and is an adviser to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Central Queens YM & YMHA is located at 67−09 108 St. in Forest Hills. The event is free, but a donation of $4 is suggested.

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