Never Again: Remembering Kristellnacht

Shop windows and storefronts were completely destroyed during the attack. Photo Credit: WikiCommons

On November 9, 1938, a planned attack on Jewish Germans left countless dead. Roughly 30,000 men were sent to concentration camps, many of them to perish, while German authorities looked the other way. This night became known as Kristellnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, and was a horrible prelude to the atrocities of the Holocaust that would follow.

This November marks the 79th anniversary of Kristellnacht, and on Wednesday, November 8, the victims of that terrible night will be remembered in music. Never Again: Music Out of the Ashes will take place at 7:30 p.m., November 8 at Congregation B’nai Israel in Sylvania. Free and open to the public, the program is designed by local Grammy-nominated conductor Sara Jobin, and features music composed by those who were imprisoned in concentration camps. It is an inclusive reflection on the horrors of Kristellnacht, giving voice to those who suffered.

Conductor Sara Jobin created the Never Again program to remember the atrocities of Kristellnacht. Photo Credit: Toledo Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Sara Jobin created the Never Again program to remember the atrocities of Kristellnacht. Photo Credit: Toledo Symphony Orchestra

Professionally, Jobin serves as resident conductor of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, but Never Again is not affiliated with the organization; rather, it’s a personal labor of love for Jobin. The inspiration for Never Again came to her after an impressive experience in September 2016, when she had the opportunity to conduct Bach’s B Minor Mass outside of the Dachau concentration camp site in Germany.

“It was such a powerful experience, making beauty out of that place of horror,” she said in an October 26 interview. “And when I came home from that, I realized what was needed in that place was for the voices of the Jewish people who had died there, their voices should be heard.”

Jobin, along with performers Carol Dusdieker (soprano), Aleks Romano (mezzo soprano) and Lauraine Carpenter (narrator), worked together to select pieces for Never Again.  Included is “The Ballad of Kristellnacht” and a children’s opera, Brundibar, from which they will be performing a lullaby.

“We’ll give a little bit of historical background in-between each song, just because most Americans probably don’t know the lead-up to all of the horrors,” Jobin said. “I tried to stick to songs that were actually composed in the concentration camps […] there’s a lot that was done afterward, in memory of, but we tried to use the songs and actual voices of the people,” she explained.

Also included is a piece by Alec Volkoviski, a Holocaust survivor who is still alive today and working as a music professor and professional pianist in Jerusalem. The program gives audience members a brief history of each work and will include a short video of Volkoviski.

“It became clear to me [while in Dachau] that ‘Never Again’ applies to anybody,” Jobin said. “Never Again should somebody be treated like that.  The concept is ‘everybody and nobody else.’” She expressed the universality of the performances and says she hopes to perform the concert in Dachau next year.

Aside from the beautiful, powerful music, the hour-long free concert will give audience members information on Holocaust history that they may not have. “Americans know the Holocaust is horrible; it’s so terrible that we don’t talk about it, and what we haven’t learned is how it happened,” Jobin explained. “That’s what’s interesting about this concert, that through music, we’re illuminating how it happened; it’s educational for all of us.”

7:30pm. Wednesday, November 8.
Congregation B’nai Israel,
6525 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania. Free.