On November 9, 1938, Nazi troops swept across Germany on a pogrom to exterminate the Jewish people and their history. They targeted and systematically destroyed synagogues, Jewish owned storefronts, homes and schools. The night has come to be known as Kristallnacht (translated to Night of Broken Glass) due to the shards of glass that littered the streets as the sun rose the next morning.

Today, a series of eight-and-a-half-foot-tall stained glass windows hang from the ceiling of Barney Zeitz’s studio in Vineyard Haven. Below the windows is a large roll of bubble wrap and two wooden crates — stamped and addressed to a small protestant parish in Flieden, Germany.

The parish was once a synagogue, one of the many to have its windows smashed and pews burned on that night in 1938. It remained abandoned for the following 13 years until it was rebuilt as a Protestant church in 1951.

Small Protestant parish in Flieden, Germany was once a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis on November 9, 1938, a night known as Kristallnacht. — Maria Thibodeau

In 2013, Marie Ariel, a Jewish woman from Cambridge, flew to Germany on a pilgrimage to trace her roots. The journey led her to the Flieden parish, where her grandfather had been bar mitzvahed in 1899.

Her father fled Flieden before the Holocaust, and by the end of the war all of the 125 Jewish families that had once inhabited the town had also fled or been killed.

During her pilgrimage, Ms. Ariel met with the minister of the parish. The minister and people of the town were so moved by their own history, and pictures of the former synagogue, that they decided to pay homage to the Jewish population, who had lived in their town for 400 years prior to the Holocaust, with a series of stained glass windows.

When asked to conscript an artist, Ms. Ariel immediately thought of Vineyard artist Barney Zeitz.

“It’s not about forgiving people, it’s not a Holocaust memorial,” Mr. Zeitz said from his studio as he gazed up at the light seeping through the stained glass. “A memorial focuses on the tragedy as opposed to remembering the life and history. This is about remembering the fact that Jews lived there with Christians for hundreds of years.”

There are six total pieces, four large windows and two smaller panels. The large windows will hang on each side of the church, one side inscribed in Hebrew and the other side inscribed in German. Though they feature different languages, the inscriptions are from the same passage, Aaron’s Priestly Prayer, used in both Christian and Jewish Services.

Viewing hours at Barney Zeitz's gallery are Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. — Maria Thibodeau

They also are inscribed with the different translations for peace — shalom and frieden.

The project took Mr. Zeitz four years to complete, working on and off amid a series of other projects. The hardest part, he said, was not the creative process of forging the stained glass — a process that involved using a sledgehammer to break the plain colored glass into fragments that were used to add detail, and two large kilns used to fuse the pieces together. The hardest part, he said, was securing the grants to make the project possible.

It was a grassroots effort, he said about his time fundraising with Ms. Ariel, both on and off-Island. The bulk of his funding, he said, came from the German state church, the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, and from selling steel angel and osprey ornaments that he cut and welded himself.

Two of the windows have already been hung in the Flieden church. The remaining four will be shipped to Germany in two weeks. For now, they are in Mr. Zeitz’s studio, with viewing hours every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Newest work will eventually be placed in front of the Fall River Government Center. — Maria Thibodeau

Fellow artist Gabriel Bellebuono works out of the Mr. Zeitz’s studio and has witnessed the journey of the stained glass windows. Mr. Bellebuono said he felt honored to watch the pieces emerge from nothing but a few trays of multi-colored glass fragments.

“The way he got the glass to mix together, to flow, it looks like a river,” Mr. Bellebuono said. “It isn’t just a window, it’s a whole case study in stained glass.”

A visit to Mr. Zeitz’s studio will also reveal his latest project, a large sketch honoring the many and diverse inhabitants of this country that will be placed in front of the Fall River Government Center, Mr. Zeitz’s hometown. Though the two works of art will be separated by a vast distance, they are united by similar inclusive themes.

The words inscribed on the new project read: “To the enduring memory of our ancestors who have enriched this land: Indigenous peoples, immigrants, the enslaved, and refugees. Their descendants and newcomers will continue to build a strong and peaceful community.”

The Barney Zeitz studio is located at 67 Deer Hill Road, Vineyard Haven.