Germany must renew attempts to ban the far-right National Democratic Party, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said.
Speaking at ceremonies marking the 69th anniversary of Kristallnacht Nov. 8, Wowereit said remembrance alone was not enough, but that action must be taken to prevent far-right groups from gaining ground among younger Germans.
Recent studies have shown that many youth hold stereotypes about Jews and are ignorant of Jewish culture and traditions. Other polls have shown an alarming number of Germans tend to see positive aspects of the Nazi regime.
Wowereit was one of several political and religious leaders at the event held at the Jewish
community center in former west Berlin. The center was built after the war on the site of the
Fasanenstrasse synagoue, which was destroyed on Nov. 9, 1938, the day that Nazi hooligans destroyed hundreds of synagogues in Germany and Austria in a massive progrom against Jews and Jewish property.
The Kristallnacht memorial program, largely led by Jewish students, featured reports by eyewitnesses to the violent events of that day. Berlin’s leading cantors also performed liturgical music representing the history of Germany’s Jewish community.
Berlin Rabbi Yitzchak Ehrenberg reminded listeners that the German capital now boasts new synagogues and schools, including private initiatives from Chabad and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, both of which are educating future Jewish teachers and rabbis.
Other commemorations in the capital included a special Sabbath service at the newly renovated Rykestrasse Synagogue in former East Berlin, the city’s only major synagogue to survive World War II intact.