On the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Germany did not forget.
The event was marked Wednesday throughout both Germanys in hundreds of solemn cermonies, recalling “the night of broken glass,” the long night of Nov. 9-10, 1938.
The events were attended by prominent leaders of the two successors to the Third Reich.
Other ceremonies included the participation of former Jewish citizens of towns and villages, invited back for the occasion by the towns them selves.
In East Berlin, Communist party leader Erich Honecker convened a special session of the state supreme political body of the German Democratic Republic, attended by guests from Israel and the World Jewish Congress.
Before the assembled dignitaries and statesmen, Honecker spoke about the plight of the Jews under the Nazis and on the obligation to draw lessons from the past.
Saying his country was founded by people who fought the Nazis, Honecker said, “There is no flight from history here, no suppressing or forgetting historical facts.”
He promised that East Germany’s children would be taught to reject anti-Semitism.
Honecker’s speech was translated instantly into Hebrew by a interpreter from Humboldt University in East Berlin, marking the first time the language was heard at a meeting of the East German political body.
The ceremony included the presentation by Honecker of state medals to a large number of Jewish activists from East Germany.
Also presented a medal was West German Jewish leader Heinz Galinski, whom Honecker had invited for the first time to participate in Kristallnacht observances.
ISRAELIS IN ATTENDANCE
Later in the day, a commemoration took place in the Volkskammer, East Germany’s parliament, which was attended by a number of Israelis who are attending in an unofficial capacity.
Volkskammer chairman Horst Sinderman dwelt at length on the contribution Jews have made to Germany’s political and cultural heritage.
The chairman of the East German Jewish community, Sigmund Roitstein, also addressed the meeting.
The event’s program was printed in both German and Hebrew, and the speeches were simultaneously translated into Hebrew, English, French and Spanish.
Observers here noted the prominent role given the Hebrew language at both events. saying it implied a high lebel of recognition.
In West Berlin, which has long held a special relationship with the Jewish state, several thousand people participated in a silent march to commemorate the bloody pogrom against the Jews.
In Frankfurt, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in addresses to a large gathering in the Frankfurt synagogue and on national television, was heckled and interrupted twice by young Jews as he tried to express the nation’s repentance for the Nazis’ deeds.
The protesters wanted to draw attention to Kohl’s participation in a ceremony with President Reagan at the cemetery at Bitburg in 1985.
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.