Merkel warns against tol­er­at­ing anti-semitism on 80th an­niver­sary of Kristall­nacht

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

CHAN­CEL­LOR An­gela Merkel and Ger­many’s main Jewish leader have warned against tol­er­at­ing mod­ern-day anti-semitism and racism as they marked the 80th an­niver­sary of the Nazis’ purge of Jewish peo­ple on the in­fa­mous “Night of Bro­ken Glass”.

On Novem­ber 9, 1938 – known as Kristall­nacht – Jews were ter­rorised through­out Ger­many and Aus­tria.

At least 91 peo­ple were killed, hun­dreds of syn­a­gogues burned down, 7,500 Jewish busi­nesses van­dalised, and up to 30,000 Jewish men ar­rested, many of whom were taken away to con­cen­tra­tion camps.

Twenty years af­ter Ger­many’s de­feat in the First World War and five years af­ter Adolf Hitler took power, state-driven anti-semitism “made it pos­si­ble for many Ger­mans to live out long-held re­sent­ments, to live out ha­tred and vi­o­lence”, Mrs Merkel said.

“With the Novem­ber pogrom, the road to the Holo­caust was mapped out.” She spoke in a cer­e­mony at a Ber­lin syn­a­gogue. The head of Ger­many’s Cen­tral Coun­cil of Jews, Josef Schus­ter, said the build­ing was set alight in 1938 and the blaze ex­tin­guished rel­a­tively quickly only so it would not en­dan­ger neigh­bour­ing houses.

Mr Schus­ter said that, while the Nazis’ SA and SS or­gan­i­sa­tions were re­spon­si­ble for the pogrom, that al­ready meant thou­sands of Ger­mans took part – and the pop­u­la­tion’s re­ac­tion “gave the Nazis valu­able in­for­ma­tion: barely any­one protested”.

He added that, while mod­ern-day at­tacks on Jews, mi­grants and Mus­lims can­not be equated with the crimes of the Nazi era, “I see it as a dis­grace for our coun­try that such things hap­pen in Ger­many in 2018”.

He con­demned the far-right Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party, which he said has “re­spect for noth­ing” and which his or­gan­i­sa­tion did not in­vite to yes­ter­day’s event.

The party en­tered Ger­many’s par­lia­ment last year.

“To­day, we are liv­ing once again in a time of far-reach­ing change,” Mrs Merkel added. “In such times, there is al­ways a par­tic­u­larly great dan­ger of those who re­act with sup­pos­edly sim­ple an­swers gain­ing sup­port.”

Those an­swers, she said, are too of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by a “bru­tal­i­sa­tion of lan­guage”.

“We are com­mem­o­rat­ing to­day with the prom­ise that we will set our­selves strongly against at­tacks on our open and plu­ral so­ci­ety,” she said.

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