30th Anniversary of ‘crystal Night’ Marked in East, West Germany Memorial Meetings

Memorial meetings were held in cities of West and East Germany over the weekend, including the two sectors of divided Berlin, to mark the 30th anniversary of “Crystal Night” – Nov. 10, 1938 – when Nazis rampaged, destroying and plundering Jewish shops and synagogues throughout the Reich. The night got its name from the smashed glass that littered the streets of nearly every German city and town after the onslaught.

The anniversary was observed solemnly by trade unions and youth organizations whose members placed wreaths on the graves of Nazi victims in Frankfurt, Munich, Dortmund, Essen, Cologne and other cities. Some used the occasion to sound warnings against increasing Nazi-like tendencies in West Germany. Heinz Galinski, chairman of the Jewish community in West Berlin, said the friendly partnership now existing between Jews and Germans was a “living reality,” but he deplored what he saw as a lack of determination on the part of many in the Federal Republic to “thoroughly erase the heritage of an evil past.” Young demonstrators marched silently through the streets of Cologne on Sunday carrying placards that denounced neo-Nazi manifestations. Trade union leaders, addressing a youth rally in Essen, promised to fight all signs of a Nazi resurgence.

“Crystal Night” marked a turning point in the progression of Nazi harassment of German Jews. After that event, in which 190 synagogues were burned to the ground and countless Jewish-owned shops looted and destroyed, Nazi persecution took a brutal turn which culminated in the death camps of World War II. On “Crystal Night,” Nazis killed 36 Jews and arrested more than 21,000 and shipped them to concentration camps. Homes and business houses that were Jewish-owned were ransacked and looted after a 17-year-old Jewish boy murdered an official in the Germany Embassy in Paris.

In West Germany, a bronze marker was dedicated over the weekend on the site of a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in 1938. Citizens of Landau decided to erect the marker to honor their Jewish compatriots whose ancestors lived in the community, whose population now numbers 30,000, for 664 years. The idea for the monument was proposed by Carl Henry Abraham of New York, a descendant of an old Landau family. Presiding at the ceremony was Dr. Kurt L. Metzger, the last rabbi of the Landau synagogue. In addition to serving congregations in Bradford, Pa. and Olean, N.Y., Dr. Metzger is also professor of Biblical antiquities at Christ the King Seminary, St. Bonaventure University, in Olean.

(In London, the House of Lords gave a second reading today to a genocide bill that would constitute approval of the United Nations convention against genocide which has already been ratified by 58 countries.)

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