German synagogue vandalized as Berlin Wall’s fall marked

BERLIN (JTA) — A new synagogue in Dresden was vandalized on the eve of the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht and as Germany celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In response to the vandalism, Germany’s top Jewish leader said the country must find ways to remember both events.

According to police reports, an outer wall of the synagogue’s community center was marked with large, black swastikas and hate slogans sometime late Saturday night. Police are investigating the crime as likely having right-wing extremist roots, reports said.

The synagogue, which was dedicated in November 2001, supposedly is guarded around the clock, as are virtually all Jewish institutions in Germany.

The vandalism took place on the eve of the 71st anniversary of the Kristallnacht anti-Jewish pogrom, when hundreds of synagogues across Germany and Austria were destroyed.

Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, suggested in a statement Monday that the synagogue vandalism may have been overlooked because of the celebration of the wall’s fall.

"Anti-Semitism and incitement of hate in Germany remain a serious problem," she said, noting that Germany has counted about 550 anti-Semitic crimes in the first half of 2009.

"Of course, people should rejoice" at the freedom represented by the collapse of the east-west barriers 20 years ago, said Knobloch, who saw the aftermath of the November 1938 pogrom as a child and survived the war in hiding.

"But we also must not forget that the November pogrom of 71 years ago presaged the opening of the gates to Auschwitz," she said. "There must be a way found in the future to remember both historical events appropriately."

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