Europe Merkel marks Nazi ‘Kristallnacht’ against Jews with synagogue speech

Merkel marks Nazi ‘Kristallnacht’ against Jews with synagogue speech

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured after speaking at a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary

Germany has a moral duty to fight rising anti-Semitism, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday in an emotional speech at a Berlin synagogue to mark the 80th anniversary of a Nazi campaign of attacks on Jews.

Dressed in black, Merkel told Jewish leaders that violence against Jews, blamed on far-right militants or Muslims, was growing in Germany now, eight decades later.

“Jewish life is blossoming again in Germany – an unexpected gift to us after the Shoah,” she said, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust. “But we are also witnessing a worrying anti-Semitism that threatens Jewish life in our country.”

Germany and Austria on Friday marked “Kristallnacht”, a wave of killings of Jews and looting and destruction of property launched on Nov. 9, 1938. The name refers to the broken glass which littered streets outside synagogues and Jewish shops and homes.

Shortly before Merkel spoke, an appeal court in Berlin overturned a decision by police to ban a far-right march in the capital planned for later on Friday.

Police had barred the event on the grounds it would be unacceptable to hold a far-right march on the same day as the rest of the country was commemorating Jewish victims of Nazi violence.

But the court was of the view that the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly were paramount.

A counter-demonstration by leftist groups was also planned.

Merkel called for zero tolerance of attempts by far-right groups to hold Germany’s large Muslim community responsible for violence committed by Islamist militants.