31 October 2008
Press Release
Note No. 6179

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Note to Correspondents



The United Nations Department of Public Information, in partnership with the Permanent Missions of Germany and Israel, will organize a panel discussion and film screening on 10 November to mark the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night-long spree of anti-Jewish violence in Germany on 9 and 10 November 1938, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, which signalled the turning point that would lead to the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

Titled “Nowhere to turn”, the panel discussion will be held from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at the United Nations New York Headquarters.  It will outline the events leading up to the Kristallnacht, known as “the night of broken glass”, in reference to the countless broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned shops and private homes that were vandalized and destroyed in State-sanctioned violence.

Chief among those events was the Evian Conference, which failed to win international agreement on opening borders to increased emigration by Jews, which would have saved countless lives.  As China was one of the few countries where Jewish people could find a safe haven following the violence, the commemoration will highlight emigration to the Ghetto of Shanghai.  Experts will also discuss the valuable lessons of this history, including its devastating impact on human dignity and factors affecting immigration policies today.

Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, will welcome the afternoon panellists, who will include Gabriela Shalev, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations; David Engel, Holocaust scholar and Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University; Gary Phillips, an eyewitness to Kristallnacht; Pan Guang, Director and Professor of the Shanghai Centre for International Studies and Institute of Eurasian Studies at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and Dean of the Centre of Jewish Studies Shanghai; and Alizabeth Newman, Director of Immigrant Initiatives and Instructor at the City University of New York School of Law.  Eric Falt, Director of the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information, will moderate the panel.  The webcast of the discussion will be archived at www.un.org/holocaustremembrance.

The evening programme, featuring the documentary film My Opposition:  The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  The film chronicles the rise of the Nazi party and reveals its brutal tactics, as recorded in secret at great personal risk by Friedrich Kellner, whose grandson, Scott Robert Kellner, will be joined by Thomas Matussek, Permanent Representative of Germany, in highlighting the historical value of the diaries and the inherent dangers of totalitarianism.  Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director of the Outreach Division, will moderate.

Both events are organized by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme of the Outreach Division, which is mandated by General Assembly resolution 60/7 to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.  Its activities include a film series, seminars, training seminars, discussion papers and innovative online information products.  For more information, please contact Kimberly Mann at 212 963 6835 or at mann@un.org.

The panel discussion and film screening will be open to Member States, United Nations staff, members of the non-governmental organization community and the public.  All guests must pre-register at holocaustremembrance@un.org or by fax to 212 963 0563.

For media accreditation, please visit:  www.un.org/media/accreditation or contact Gary Fowlie, Chief, Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  212 963 6937, fax:  212 963 4642.

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For information media • not an official record