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.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.