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Germany Remembers Kristallnacht at a Fraught Moment

Christopher F. Schuetze and Graham Bowley
NY Times, Nov. 9, 2023

“When Jewish women and men are afraid to openly live their religion, their culture, their everyday lives, to exercise their fundamental right to be visible as members of our society then something is out of control.”
In a moment heavy with symbolism, Germany on Thursday marked the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the eruption of murderous Nazi violence against the country’s Jews on the night of Nov. 9, 1938.

In a nation used to painful soul-searching about its Nazi past, the date marks the moment when Hitler and the National Socialists accelerated the anti-Jewish campaign that would become the Holocaust, orchestrating a nationwide pogrom that included the torching of synagogues and Jewish-owned stores and businesses.

Each year the anniversary is marked by somber vows of “never again” to allow such hatred and violence to be replicated.

On the night of Nov. 9, 1938, uniformed Nazi troops belonging to the S.A. and S.S. led regular Germans in a coordinated attack on Jewish temples, shops, and social gathering places — the fiercest attack on Jewish life since the Nazis took power in 1933. In the rampage of violence, Nazis ransacked and set fire to synagogues, many of which were never rebuilt.

When the attacks of Kristallnacht — or “the Night of Broken Glass” — ended, more than 90 people had been killed, 30,000 people had been sent to concentration camps, and 1,400 synagogues were destroyed, according to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel.

But this year’s anniversary comes against a backdrop of a rise of the far-right in Germany, the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the subsequent Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which has helped fuel a surge of antisemitic attacks across Europe, including in Germany.

… [To read the full article, click here]

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