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World - Europe

Germany commemorates Nazi era 'Kristallnacht'

President says country must never forget

November 9, 1998
Web posted at: 11:55 a.m. EST (1655 GMT)

BERLIN (CNN) -- Germany on Monday marked the 60th anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogrom known as Kristallnacht -- or Crystal Night -- with solemn ceremonies and calls for renewed vigilance against right-wing extremism.

President Roman Herzog and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder led a ceremony in a restored synagogue to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which has become known as Night of Broken Glass, when thousands of synagogues and Jewish shops were destroyed during a night of Nazi rampage.

"The night of November 9 and 10, 1938 is one of the most horrible and shameful moments in Germany history," Herzog said.

"It was only a precursor of what was to come. But its events were also in themselves such a slap in the face of humanity and civilization that we must be reminded of this date again and again," he said.

» Some facts related to Kristallnacht.

In the night of November 9-10, 1938, Nazi stormtroopers ransacked Jewish-owned shops and set synagogues ablaze across Germany and Austria in a swathe of violence and destruction.

At least 91 Jews were killed in the night of violence. On the same night, 26,000 Jewish men were rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps.

Officials have said 200 synagogues were ruined, but leaders of the Jewish community in Germany said that more than 1,000 were damaged if smaller, unofficial places of worship are counted.

Kristallnacht escalated the Nazi persecution of the Jews, which had begun on Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933. It also triggered an exodus of Jews from Germany.

Jewish leader calls for vigilance

Ignatz Bubis, the leader of Germany's Jewish community, said attention to the Holocaust could not be allowed to wane.

"One cannot only look to the glorious sides of history and suppress the unpleasant ones," Bubis said.

"Those who are not prepared to address this aspect of history and try to look away or to forget, must accept the fact that history can be repeated," he warned.

His warning coincided with the discovery of new anti-Jewish acts of vandalism.

A memorial commemorating the mass deportation of Berlin's Jews to concentration camps was found defaced with swastikas.

Three small swastikas were scratched around a Star of David on the metal monument, which was erected on a railway bridge in 1987 and has been damaged several times since then.

Swastikas and neo-Nazi graffiti were also discovered Monday sprayed on walls in the eastern city of Schwerin, north of Berlin, police said.

And just south of Berlin in Potsdam, police reported a stone was thrown through a window of a house on the grounds of a Jewish cemetery.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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