Germany commemorated two significant dates in its modern history on Wednesday – the 56th anniversary of Kristallnacht and the fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In a ceremony at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, declared that this was not only a day of rejoicing over the fall of the wall, but it should also be remembered as the night of the 1938 pogrom.
In a television interview, Bubis said, “Had it not been for Kristallnacht and what followed, the division of Berlin and the wall would not have taken place.”
Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen, at a wreath-laying ceremony for those killed when trying to cross the Berlin Wall to freedom, said the day should be a reminder that one should constantly aspire to freedom, and that Berlin should not forget the victims of totalitarianism in this century.
On Nov. 9, 1938 – a night known as Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass – the Nazis conducted a nationwide pogrom against the country’s Jews that led to the Holocaust.
On the same date in 1989, the Berlin Wall was toppled as a result of widespread dissatisfaction with Communist rule. Less than a year later, Germany was reunited in what was the only bloodless revolution in German history.
Because of Kristallnacht, Germany has refrained from declaring Nov. 9 a national holiday to mark the fall of the wall. Instead, the country commemorates Oct. 3 as the day of German unity. On Oct. 3, 1990, East and West Germany were officially reunited.
Meanwhile, a prominent German neo-Nazi who is facing Holocaust-denial charges was placed in detention Wednesday in Munich, in an effort to prevent his possible escape.
A Berlin court had ordered the arrest of Bela Althans, 28, for comments he made in the controversial film “Profession: Neo-Nazi,” a controversial documentary about Althan’s neo-Nazi activities.
In the course of the film, Althans praised Adolf Hitler and denied that the Holocaust ever took place.
The film has been banned in Germany.