On November 7, 2013, Magda joined the Aurora University community to remember Kristallnacht.
AU’s event marked the 75th anniversary of the night on which Nazi hatred against the Jews was unleashed in violence, desecration, brutality and bloodshed-and on which ordinary Germans stood by as the pogrom unfolded. The university assembled a panel of expert witnesses to ponder the challenges which this night of evil, and the Holocaust to which it gave rise, still poses. The panel included Magda, Kelley Szany, director of educational outreach and genocide initiatives at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, and Carl Wilkens, a humanitarian aid worker who witnessed the Rwandan genocide. Mr. Wilkens is the founder of “World Outside My Shoes,” which is dedicated to inspiring and equipping people to stand up against genocide, racism and intolerance.
The panelists and University Chaplain Dr. Jonathan Dean discussed ways to become aware of the signs that lead to genocide, focusing on the question, “What have we learned from the Holocaust, and what have we failed to learn? How can we help prevent hatred, bullying and discrimination in our own time and place?” Ms. Szany talked about the ways that genocide creeps into society and about learning from the tragic experiences of the Holocaust to create a better world.
“The real horror of Kristallnacht was that ordinary Germans idly watched and even participated in the attacks on their Jewish neighbors. While we might think that it could never happen here, the truth is that, until we learn to see all people as our family and see our obligations to one another, we are in danger of failing to stand up to discrimination ourselves. Magda, Kelley and Carl were a perfect combination because of their ability to inform us about the past, remind us of the reality of the present day and help us draw lessons for the future.” — Dr. Jonathan Dean, AU Today