Night of broken glass tribute
Germany remembered victims of the Nazi pogrom that heralded the start of the Third Reich’s drive to wipe out Jews, at a time when anti-Semitism is resurgent in the West.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier were to join Jewish leaders at Germany’s biggest synagogue to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass.
Steinmeier’s speech at the Bundestag would mark one of Germany’s darkest days, but also two other momentous events in the country’s history that also fell on November 9 – the end of the imperial government in 1918 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The grimmest of the three dates was that in 1938, when Nazi thugs murdered at least 90 Jews, torched 1,400 synagogues across Germany and Austria, and destroyed Jewish-owned shops and businesses.
The pretext for the coordinated action was the fatal shooting on November 7 1938, of a German diplomat in Paris by a Polish Jewish student.
In what they labelled their retaliation, the Nazis rounded up and deported at least 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.
In addition, they made the Jews pay “compensation” for the damage caused to property. The brutal rampage marked the point at which local persecution of Jews became systematic, culminating in the Holocaust that claimed some six million lives.
In recent years across Germany on November 9, people have got on their knees to polish “Stolpersteine” (stumbling stones) – coaster-sized brass plaques embedded in pavements bearing the names of Jewish victims in front of their former homes.
But in Berlin last year, 16 plaques were dug up and stolen just before the Kristallnacht anniversary, in a sign of a resurgence in anti-Semitism.
On the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known in Germany as Reichspogromnacht, far-right militants were planning a demonstration in Berlin, forcing authorities to step in with a ban.
“The idea that right-wing extremists are going to march through the government district in the dark with the burning candles is unbearable,” said Berlin’s interior minister Andreas Geisel .—
IN TRIBUTE: People light candles in Schwerin, Germany to mark the 80th anniversary of the ‘Night of Broken Glass’.