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Nov 9-10, 2018: Germany marks 80 years since Kristallnacht

GERMANY - German Nazis killed Jews and attacked Jewish property and synagogues 80 years ago, an overnight atrocity known as Kristallnacht that presaged the Holocaust. The government strives to keep the memory alive with its annual remembrance, in part as a warning against the extremism that fueled the attacks.

In her weekly podcast ahead of the 75th anniversary of the attacks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the episode as “one of the darkest moments in German history”. During a speech about German reunification in Oct 2016, according to an AP report, she noted that knowing one’s history better, including the dark period of National Socialism (Nazi era), is important for paving the country’s right way forward.

She is contending with the rise of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Its anti-Islam and anti-immigration policies build on the extremism and white supremacy that fueled Kristallnacht, which translates as the night of broken glass. AfD emerged as the third-strongest political force in the country’s national election in Sep 2017.

In two days and nights, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned or otherwise damaged, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica account. Rioters ransacked and looted about 7,500 Jewish businesses, killed at least 91 Jews, and vandalized Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries. Glass from smashed storefront windows lay strewn across the streets, giving the atrocity its name. Some 30,000 Jewish males aged 16 to 60 were arrested. To accommodate so many new prisoners, the concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen were expanded.

#22409 Published: 12/04/2017

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