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.

In Brussels, the European Jewish Congress is to hold a memorial together with the Conference of European Rabbis, the World Holocaust Forum, Yad Vashem, and the Jewish Community of Belgium. The next day, the EJC is hosting a programme with European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering to promote tolerance.

EJC head Moshe Kantor had pressed Chancellor Angela Merkel to co-sponsor a Kristallnacht commemoration event with the EJC, but ultimately resorted to organising the event in Brussels.

The German parliament also overcame an embarrassing deadlock to pass a resolution naming antisemitism as a "problem in German society that still demands serious attention".

The resolution calls for a team of experts to report regularly on antisemitic crimes and to support measures to combat such crimes. It also asks the government to continue supporting the growth of Jewish life in Germany, and to promote education on the subject.It states unequivocal support for Israel and identifies as antisemites those who participate in demonstrations where Israeli flags are burned and antisemitic slogans are chanted.

Previous efforts to pass the motion failed because the Conservative Christian Democratic Union refused to sign anything together with the Left Party.

New statistics show that there were 800 antisemitic crimes registered in Germany in the first nine months of 2008. Most alarming was that 27 people were injured in attacks during this period, up from 13 in 2007.

Last updated: 12:26pm, November 6 2008