Germany marks 80th anniversary of Krystallnacht against Jews

BERLIN, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — After 80 years of the Nazi’s Krystallnacht campaign attacking Jews, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday delivered a speech in a synagogue vowing to fight against anti-Semitism.

Merkel, in full black, attended a commemorative ceremony at Berlin’s largest synagogue, and delivered a speech, saying that Jewish lives are flourishing in Germany once again, which is a gift after the break of civilization.

The Krystallnacht, or the Crystal Night, refers to the night of Nov. 9, 1938, when Nazi members broke windows of Jewish homes, shops and synagogues and the broken glass littered streets. The notorious campaign marked Nazi’s escalating of the organized holocaust of about 6 million Jewish people.

“But at the same time, we see a worrying anti-Semitism, which threatens Jewish life in our country,” said Merkel at the commemorative ceremony, which was also attended by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Merkel also called for drawing historical lessons by emphasizing the pogrom’s place as part of a process of growing anti-Semitism in Germany that began with what would now be called hate speech and culminated with the systematic murder of Jewish people.

“If we look at the situation today, 80 years after the November pogroms, and almost 70 years after the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany, then we see an ambiguous image,” said Merkel.

Merkel mentioned the rise of hate speech on Internet, the attack on a Jewish restaurant in Chemnitz this summer, and attacks on people wearing Jewish traditional clothes. She also tied all this to the rise of populism in times of uncertainty created by political instability.

“There is a particularly great danger that those with apparently simple answers to the difficulties and consequences of these upheavals become popular,” she said. “Simple answers that too often come with a brutalization of language on the streets, as well as online. That is the beginning we must oppose decisively.”

Merkel added that Germany has a moral duty to fight the rising anti-Semitism.

The far-right populist party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) had been the only parliamentary group not invited to the commemoration.

Without naming the AfD explicitly, Josef Schuster, president of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany, condemned the party for minimizing the crimes of the Nazi era and stirring hate in the country.

Nov. 9 is the day of fate for Germany. One hundred years ago the German Empire came to an end and the Weimar Republic was established, and 29 years ago the Berlin Wall had been opened.

In a speech to the German Federal Parliament on Friday morning, Steinmeier the “most difficult and painful question of German history” was how, shortly after democracy was established in 1918, enemies of democracy were able to win elections, plunge Germany into war with its neighbors and send Jewish families to gas chambers.

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