November 10, 2010
Controversial author speaks at Kristallnacht rite
A German-born French author seen as an unfair critic of Israel was among the speakers at Kristallnacht commemorations in Germany.
Alfred Grosser, 85, spoke in Frankfurt at the annual remembrance ceremony in St Paul’s Church, and according to reports used his podium to call for “sympathy in understanding the suffering in the Gaza Strip.”
German Jewish leaders had ripped the choice of Grosser, saying he has unfairly criticized the Jewish state. A threatened walkout during his talk did not materialize.
In ceremonies Tuesday throughout Germany, communities recalled the night 72 years ago when Nazi hooligans destroyed Jewish property and synagogues. At least 91 Jews were killed on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in a pogrom that marked new heights in the persecution of Jews in Germany.
In Berlin’s Jewish community center, located on the site of a synagogue destroyed on Kristallnacht, the Gewandhaus Children’s Choir performed works by Jewish composers, including several works orginally written and performed at the Theresienstadt concentration camp near Prague.
Lala Suesskind, president of the Berlin Jewish community, said she hoped the performance would serve as a reminder of the suffering of Jewish children during the Holocaust.
Mayor Klaus Wowereit told the audience of some 600 at the center that he was well aware of the contrasts of the day: 21 years ago on Nov. 9 the Berlin Wall fell, and many Berliners were celebrating Tuesday.
“But we must not forget” what happened 72 years ago, Wowereit said. “We must recall it with anger, shame and horror.”
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the pogrom destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland. About 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps. It was the first mass arrest of Jews on the basis of their religion.
Some were killed, but most of those arrested were released within a few months after promising to emigrate.