Kristallnacht pogrom to be marked across Europe

By Toby Axelrod, November 6, 2008

The 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom is to be marked by communities across Europe on November 9.

The German government and the Central Council of Jews are co-sponsoring a ceremony at the Rykestrasse Synagogue in the former East Berlin, one of the few shuls to survive the war. The city's Jewish community will mark the day at a community centre on the site of a shul destroyed in the attack.


A German shul boom

By Toby Axelrod, September 26, 2008

Just in time for the New Year, two Jewish communities in Germany have new synagogues.

But the buildings themselves are not new. In Bielefeld, a former church has been refitted, its steeple and church bells replaced with a dome. And in Krefeld, a former commercial building has been redesigned, using elements rescued from the synagogue destroyed in the town during the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht pogrom nearly 70 years ago.

Both new synagogues, which each hold 300 worshippers, are located in the former West German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Show reveals how hate lingered in East Germany

By Toby Axelrod, September 26, 2008

An exhibition detailing the extent of antisemitism in the former East Germany has opened in East Berlin.

"There was no such thing!" - Antisemitism in the German Democratic Republic is the the product of Erik Thews, 21, and several other students who began researching the subject as part of a high-school assignment. 

Mr Thews and his fellow students were presented with piles of archival documents that their advisor, Konstanze Ameer, obtained.


Berlin memorial daubed

August 28, 2008

Berlin's Holocaust memorial was daubed with 11 red and black swastikas over the weekend. The monument, consisting of 2,700 concrete slabs near the Brandenburg Gate, has been vandalised several times since it opened in 2005. This latest incident comes a week after a memorial to gay victims of the Nazis was vandalised in the German capital, close to the Shoah monument.


German Jewish pundit defends right to call another Jew anti-Semitic

By Toby Axelrod, August 18, 2008

In a scandal unfolding in a Cologne courtroom, a German Jewish journalist is standing up for his right to call another Jew anti-Semitic.

Henryk Broder, acerbic columnist for Der Spiegel magazine and a well-known pro-Israel blogger in Germany, has refused to settle a civil case with Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, daughter of a former leader of Germany's Jewish community, whom he has publicly accused of making anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist statements.


Germany in row over Iran deal

By Toby Axelrod, August 14, 2008

Pressure is mounting on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to tighten economic sanctions on Iran after news broke of a major gas deal between a German firm and the Islamic Republic.


Heirs invited to view Hitler’s art collection online

By Toby Axelrod, August 7, 2008

A Berlin museum is presenting an online museum of works collected by Adolf Hitler in the hope of uniting former owners or their heirs with stolen works.

The virtual collection, a joint project by the German Historical Museum and Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues, is also meant to provide research material on the National Socialist abuse of art for political purposes, according to Angelika Enderlein of the Federal Agency, Museum collection director Monika Flacke and Berlin historian Hanns Christian Löhr, who co-ordinated the project.


Refugee’s 13-year fight opens floodgates for Kinder claims

By Simon Rocker, July 31, 2008

Dozens of former refugees from Nazi Germany are set to receive improved compensation after a 13-year campaign by a London man.

Hermann Hirschberger, 82, was one of the 10,000 children sent to Britain by their parents on the Kindertransport shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

This week his tenacity paid off when Britain said it would remove a legal obstacle which, until now, has prevented many of his fellow-Kinder from getting the full German payments.


Survivors blast Germany for ‘worthless’ compensation

By Craig Silver, July 17, 2008

Berlin gives two former slave labourers just £1,600 after more than 60 years

Two Holocaust survivors have attacked the German government for “worthless” offers of £1,600 in compensation payments.

Helena Aronson and Krulik Wilder survived two Polish ghettos where they worked as slave labourers in filthy factories for up to 12 hours a day.

Mr Wilder, who now lives in Radlett, Herts, was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp in December 1944. He was liberated by the Russians from Theresienstadt in May 1945.


German citizen test omits Shoah

By Toby Axelrod, July 17, 2008

Jewish groups have criticised Germany’s proposed citizenship exam for failing to include a single question about the Holocaust.

The general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, said he was shocked to find that the Interior Ministry’s new test includes some 320 questions related to history and society, but that the word Holocaust is not mentioned once. The test is to go into effect in September.