Jewish Leader Says Children Will Keep Memory Alive
FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ Children of victims will preserve the memory of the orgy of genocide launched 50 years ago with a night of horror the Nazis called Kristallnacht, a Jewish leader said Wednesday.
Heinz Galinski, leader of West Germany’s 32,000 Jews, later went to a ceremony in East Germany, whose Jewish population is only 450-600. He urged East and West Germany to make the anniversary a joint day of rememberance of the Nazi past.
Some Jews objected to Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s presence in the Frankfurt synagogue where Galinksi spoke, and he was heckled from the balcony. They cite his 1985 visit with President Reagan to the Bitburg cemetery where 49 Nazi SS officers are buried, and an alleged insensitivity to Jewish concerns.
On Tuesday, someone spray-painted swastikas and pro-Nazi slogans on a synagogue in the Bavarian village of Binswangen, police reported.
Adolf Hitler sent gangs of Nazi thugs into the streets the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938. They killed scores of Jews, burned hundreds of synagogues, ransacked 7,500 Jewish businesses, destroyed thousands of Jewish homes and rounded up 30,000 Jews for shipment to concentration camps.
A similar rampage occurred in Austria, Hitler’s homeland, which he had annexed to the Third Reich eight months earlier. About 200,000 Jews lived in Austria then. There are 7,000 now.
Shattered glass covered the streets after the terrible night and the Nazis, in a boastful mood, named it Kristallnacht, which in English is Crystal Night.
″The responsibility cannot be divided,″ said Galinski, a 75-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death damp. ″Specifically, it is the joint responsibility of both German nations for the past they have in common.″
In Vienna, the Austrian parliament observed a minute of silence for the victims.
Rabbi Avi Weiss of New York and two other activisits from his Coalition of Concern symbolically re-enacted the Nazi practice of forcing Jews to wash the streets of Vienna with toothbrushes.
At an evening ceremony in the community center adjacent to Vienna’s only synagogue, Jewish leader Paul Grosz said millions of Austrians ignored the fate of the Jews half a century ago.
″Not the blind hate, not the lust to get one’s hands on Jewish money, but indifference led to all those unmentionable things that we still have not overcome,″ he said.
Roman Catholic layman Paul Schulmeister apologized for the failure of Austria’s predominantly Catholic population to help the Jews. About 100 young Austrians marched to the synagogue behind a banner saying, ″Austria, when will you forgive your victims?″
Felix Schrott, who helped carry the banner, said they were protesting a tendency to suppress Austria’s past.
East Germany continued to dwell on support Communists gave the Jews during the Holocaust that took 6 million Jewish lives.
Erich Honecker, president and Communist Party chief, said in a message to the small Jewish community that Communists and Jews had been friends and allies in the ″anti-fascist struggle.″
Horst Sindermann, president of the East German parliament, made a speech Tuesday rejecting responsibility for Nazi atrocities. He repeated the East German argument that German Communists stood by the Jews.
West Germany has paid more than $45 billion to victims and their families. East Germany has not paid reparations.
Wednesday’s ceremonies in Frankfurt and East Berlin were among hundreds of events in towns and cities throughout the two countries. Historians agree Kristallnacht was the start of the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jews.
Ernst Breit, leader of West Germany’s DGB labor federation, said a national Holocaust memorial should be created as ″a clearly visible sign that we Germans are aware of our historical guilt and responsibility.″ He spoke at the site of the former Dachau concentration camp outside Munich.
In Israel, President Chaim Herzog urged Israelis to reconcile their internal differences and declared: ″Let’s not forget that, to our enemies, these differences are non-existent.″
Galinski delivered the main address in a service televised live from West End synagogue, the only one in Frankfurt that survived Kristallnacht, during a national day of atonement.
Before entering the synagogue, U.S. Ambassador Richard Burt told reporters: ″This commemoration is important so that we never forget what occurred here, so that it never happens again.″
In his address, Galinski called the Holocaust ″the past that is not finished and cannot be overcome″ and denounced attempts to diminish the Nazi horror.
″You may deceive yourselves with the hope that one day there won’t be any more witnesses, no one who from personal experience can raise a veto to the distortion of history,″ he said, ″but you are forgetting that our children, the children of the victims, will ... take our task upon themselves.″
″The younger generation - just as we ourselves - are always on guard against a return of the indescribable,″ and the children ″will never forget,″ he said.
West End synagogue was badly damaged on Kristallnacht and has been refurbished - its stone walls, majestic pillars and sweeping arches returned to their original splendor. Police surrounded it Wednesday in case of attacks on the dignitaries inside.
One of two hecklers shouted from the balcony during Kohl’s speech: ″Mr. Chancellor, what about Bitburg?″ Then both called out: ″Mr. Chancellor, why are you lying? We want our rights 3/8″
″Let me finish,″ Kohl responded.
His address also took up the theme of coming generations. He said ″the death of the last eyewitness″ cannot be permitted to mean the end of recollection.