Monday, 11 November 2013

75 Years Since Kristallnacht

On the 9th November Germany marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht with solemn ceremonies and touching tributes to the victims. This year, instead of one central memorial event, many smaller commemorations are taking place including art projects, Twitter initiatives and silent vigils.

The attacks of November 9 and 10, 1938, saw Nazi  smash up Jewish businesses throughout Germany, torch synagogues and round up about 30,000 Jewish men for deportation to concentration camps.

At least 90 Jews were killed in the night of violence, also known as 'The Night of Broken Glass', which historians say ushered in the start of the Nazis' drive to wipe out European Jewry.

As part of the unconventional memorials, Berliners and tourists during the day polished around 5,000 "Stolpersteine" memorials for Jews in their neighbourhoods. The "stumbling blocks" are small plaques bearing the names of Holocaust victims embedded in the street in front of their last known address, along with their dates of birth and facts about their deportation.

Meanwhile around 120 retailers in Berlin have affixed adhesive film to their shop windows depicting the jagged pattern of broken glass to commemorate the destruction levelled against Jewish merchants. The stickers were concentrated in areas of central Berlin that were targeted by the Nazi looters in 1938, with participants including Germany's most famous department store KaDeWe.

President Joachim Gauck paid his respects at a synagogue in the eastern city of Eberswalde near Berlin which was destroyed in the rampage, and where there is now a memorial made from the building's rediscovered foundations and freshly planted trees.

Churches in Berlin have planned a silent march to the site of an obliterated synagogue in the city centre in which Mayor Klaus Wowereit was due to take part. The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, had called for "honest, emotional concern" on the part of Germans on the anniversary and urged continued vigilance against hatred.