(JTA) — Seven decades ago, the Nazis banned Jews from participating in the famed festive costume party of the German city of Cologne.
This month, a Jewish group will again be an official participant at the Cologne Carnival in what it says is the first such occurrence since World War II.
The Cologne event had its first Jewish group in the 1920s, the Swiss-Jewish newspaper Tachles reported Tuesday. Called the Kleines Kolner Klub, or “small Cologne club,” the group was known then by its initials, KKK, which the new group headed by Knappstein took over despite its use by Ku Klux Klan white supremacists in the United States.
The new group is called Kolsch Kippa Kopp, Cologne-dialect German for “Cologne kippah head,” and its establishment “brings back the festivities to the Jewish community,” Aaron Knappstein, the president of the new Jewish group, wrote in a statement.
“Cologne Jews have always been part of the diverse Carnival life, but not visible for a long time,” he added.
The Cologne Carnival is one of many costume parties that are held in parts of Europe and Latin America in February and March. Carnival, or Carnaval, is a Catholic tradition with pagan roots that grew out of the need to consume winter larders.
The events feature dance groups or floats comprising members who enter as official participants. They practice their moves and prepare flashy outfits for months ahead of the celebration, which this year will begin in Cologne on Feb. 28.