Germany celebrates Kristallnacht in the midst of the Israel-Hamas war and increasing anti-Semitism

Across Germany, people gathered in schools, town halls, synagogues, churches and parliament on Thursday to commemorate the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht – or the “Night of Broken Glass” – in which the Nazis murdered Jews across Germany and Austria terrorized.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s top Jewish leader, Josef Schuster, were scheduled to speak at an anniversary ceremony at a Berlin synagogue that was firebombed last month.

The commemoration of the pogrom comes at a time when Germany is again seeing a sharp rise in anti-Semitism following the brutal Hamas attack that killed 1,400 people in Israel on October 7 and sparked an ongoing war in Gaza.

“I was there during Kristallnacht. “I was in Vienna at the time,” said Holocaust survivor Herbert Traube on Wednesday at an anniversary event in Paris.

“I was often told, ‘Never again.’ “It has been a leitmotif in everything that has been said for decades,” Traube said, adding that he was dismayed by both the resurgence of anti-Semitism and the lack of a “massive popular reaction” against it.

On November 9, 1938, the Nazis killed at least 91 people and destroyed 7,500 Jewish businesses. They also burned more than 1,400 synagogues, according to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Up to 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many of them deported to concentration camps such as Dachau or Buchenwald. Hundreds more committed suicide or died as a result of abuse in the camps years before official mass deportations began.

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