Nazi victims remembered
– Germany yesterday remembered victims of the Nazi pogrom that heralded the Third Reich’s drive to wipe out Jews, at a time when anti-Semitism and nationalism is resurgent in the West.
In a speech at the Bundestag marking the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the violence on November 9, 1938 marked “the incomparable break from civilisation, Germany’s fall into barbarism”.
Germany must never look away again, if “some try again to speak for the ‘real people’ and seek to exclude” those who may have a different religion or skin colour, he said.
In a clear reference to a growing far-right movement in Germany, Steinmeier warned against a “new, aggressive nationalism” that “conjures up an idyllic past that never existed”.
Steinmeier will later join chancellor Angela Merkel and Jewish leaders at Germany’s biggest synagogue to commemorate one of the country’s darkest days.
On November 9, 1938, 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.
The Nazis rounded up and deported at least 30 000 Jews to concentration camps and made Jews pay “compensation” for the damage caused to property.
Charlotte Knobloch, former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, recalled walking through town that day with her father.
“I saw the smouldering synagogue and asked: why aren’t the firemen coming? I got no reply,” she told the public broadcaster ZDF. –AFP
I saw the smouldering synagogue and asked: why aren’t the firemen coming? I got no reply. Charlotte Knobloch Former president of the Central Council of Jews