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Holocaust survivor to recount Kristallnacht memories

November 11, 2010

Idele Stapholtz

With every passing year, there are fewer witnesses left to tell first-hand stories of Kristallnacht, the vicious 1938 riots that swept through Nazi Germany early in the war.

So Chapman University is honored to have Idele Stapholtz, a witness to that night and a Holocaust survivor, as the guest of honor at its interfaith service of remembrance in honor of Kristallnacht. The program is at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, and is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel at the Fish Interfaith Center. Stapholtz’s talk is part of the Schwartz Holocaust Lecture Series.

“There are few witnesses to Kristallnacht, and it makes it even more special to have one come and speak to our students. It is a rare thing to have someone with that experience to be able to share it first-hand with our students,” says Jessica MyLymuk, Holocaust education coordinator at The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.

In 1938 Idele Stapholtz’s life was already traumatized by life in Nazi Germany. Her father, a Polish Jewish émigré, had been forced to return to Poland. She remained in Germany with family friends while her father tried to obtain the documents that would allow him to return for Idele, whose mother had died in childbirth.

When classmates taunted her and called her a “dirty Jew,” the family sent her to a Jewish children’s home. But even that relative protection ended on Kristallnacht, the Nov. 9 night when violent, state-sanctioned anti-Jewish riots raged through Germany, destroying synagogues, Jewish homes, businesses and schools and killing at least 91 Jews. Fortunately for Stapholtz, she escaped Germany when she was sent on a Kindertransport to Brussels, Belgium, where she survived the war under the protection of a Catholic family. Her father perished in the Holocaust.

Preceding the service, a Shabbat dinner sponsored by Chapman Hillel in the Wilkinson Founders Chapel will be served at 6 p.m. The dinner is free and all are welcome, but reservations are requested so organizers can plan accordingly.  Please contact Megan Kanofsky, Chapman Hillel Program Associate, at for more dinner information.

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