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Europe

Germany marks 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht

© Photo: AFP

Video by Kalvin NG

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-10

Saturday saw Germans mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, an event seen as the start of the Holocaust in which Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were smashed and ransacked on the night of November 9, 1938.

Germans across the country Saturday gathered to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a night of violence against Jews that marked the beginning of the Holocaust.

Also known as the Night of Broken Glass, November 9, 1938 saw a wave of attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria by both Nazi paramilitary forces and civilians.

Hundreds of synagogues were burned, numerous homes and Jewish-owned stores were ransacked, some 1,000 people were killed and more than 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps.

The attacks marked the beginning of the state-organised, violent persecution of Jews which ended in the murder of six million European Jews by the end of the Third Reich in 1945.

As part of the unconventional memorials, Saturday saw Berliners and tourists polish around 5,000 "Stolpersteine" memorials for Jews in their neighbourhoods.

The "stumbling blocks" are small plaques bearing the names of Holocaust victims embedded in the street in front of their last known address, along with their dates of birth and facts about their deportation.

A silent march was also held through the capital’s streets, while around 120 retailers in Berlin have affixed adhesive film to their shop windows depicting the jagged pattern of broken glass to commemorate the destruction levelled against Jewish merchants.

'A low point in German history'

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said he hoped the commemorations would help keep the lessons of the Holocaust from fading from memory.

“Especially now as witnesses die and there are fewer of them, we have to find new ways to commemorate and look back at it. So it's very important to work on educating people,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also called on the country’s citizens to never forget the events of the past.

She described the Night of Broken Glass as “an event that humiliated Jews in an unbelievable way ... a real low point in German history had been reached''.

Sunday’s anniversary came a day after a poll European found that more than three-quarters of those questioned believe anti-Semitism is surging in their home countries and close to one-third have considered emigrating because they do not feel safe.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-11-10

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