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November 10, 2021

By The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Kristallnacht and Us

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.” (Joel 2:12-13)

Tuesday night was Trinity’s annual observance of Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass.” On the night of November 9-10, 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a campaign of violence and destruction against Jewish individuals and businesses. Hundreds died, and tens of thousands were arrested and sent to concentration camps. More than 250 Jewish synagogues and more than 7000 businesses were destroyed. Lutheran bishop Martin Sasse, who was also a member of the Nazi Party, celebrated the fact Kristallnacht coincided with the November 10 birthday of reformer Martin Luther. Truly, we have much for which to repent, as Christians and as Lutherans.

At last night’s Kristallnacht commemoration:

Dr. Rachel Wrenn spoke about the importance of lament for people of faith;

Dr. Brad Binau spoke about the history of Trinity’s observance of this day; and

Mr. Ralph Cochran, Capital University Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, framed this observance in the context of the University’s larger commitments.

Trinity’s late President Dennis Anderson played a central role in linking Trinity with the local Jewish community here in Bexley. It was during Denny’s presidency that the Promise for Life sculpture was commissioned and installed on Trinity’s campus as a Holocaust memorial and as a stimulus for continuing interfaith partnerships. When I attended Denny’s funeral in Omaha last month, I was moved to see a framed picture of the Promise for Life sculpture included with all the family photographs in the display honoring Denny’s life.

Our annual Kristallnacht observance here at Trinity is a continuation of that work: an opportunity to weep for the harm that has been done, an opportunity to mourn for what has been lost, and an opportunity to return to God by opening our hearts to others.

The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary forms leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.