The birth of Hollywood is a remarkable story of innovation and ingenuity. It is also an American-Jewish story – one in which Carl Laemmle, an immigrant from Germany, played an enormous role. Laemmle’s greatest legacy, however, stems from what he did during the last two years of his life. On Sunday morning November 8, 2015, 9 AM, Congregation Or Shalom, 205 Old Grassy Hill Road, Orange will celebrate the life-saving, selfless deeds of Carl Laemmle at the annual Kristallnacht Commemoration.
By 1936, the circumstances of the Jewish community in Nazi Germany had become clearly life threatening. That year, Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures, began to reach out to his German-Jewish relatives and former townspeople in hopes of bringing as many as possible to safety on American shores. In November 1938, in the aftermath of the horrors of Kristallnacht, Laemmle threw himself into the work of saving anyone he could from the clutches of the Nazi regime. Pressed by Secretary of State Cordell Hull to explain his relentless activity on behalf of “complete strangers”, Laemmle wrote: “…It is simply a matter that touches me deeply and I, for one, am willing to go to the limit in helping these poor unfortunates…” In the end, Carl Laemmle saved hundreds of people from the Holocaust. The precise number of refugees he shepherded to safety in the United States is still unknown; historians agree that the number was at least 250.
The program will begin at 9 AM with a power-point presentation made by Thomas Doherty, author and professor of American Studies and chair of the American Studies Program at Brandeis University. Then, Senator Richard Blumenthal will present a commendation to the Laemmle family, who will receive it on behalf of their “Uncle Carl”, may his memory bring blessing. Surrounding the Senator and the Laemmle family will be several of the hundreds who are alive today because of the life-saving deeds of Carl Laemmle. All are welcome. Free and open to the public. This program is made possible by a generous donation from the Men’s Club Yellow Candle Fund. Please join us for this exciting community event!