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Night of Broken Glass ended Jewish life in Germany: head of German Jews centre

The Night of Broken Glass, November 9, 1938, was a turning point, the beginning of an end to Jewish life in Germany leading to the last achievable and sole stage of an antisemitic escalation – physical extermination, Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, has written in the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” daily.

Also known as the November pogroms, the Night of Broken Glass was a widespread action against Jews carried out by the Nazi Party’s Sturmabteilung (SA) paramilitary and Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary forces along with some participation from the Hitler Youth and German civilians throughout Nazi Germany on November 9-10, 1938. German authorities would not stop the ideology-driven violence.

Mr Schuster stressed that the November pogroms were not “spontaneous demonstrations” but acts of violence meticulously schemed and orchestrated by the SA and SS paramilitary forces.

A total of 1,400 synagogues were set on fire, and 7,500 houses and companies were vandalised on November 9, 1938, in Germany and Austria, Mr Schuster wrote, adding that hundreds of Jews were killed or forced to commit suicide. As many as 30,000 men, in other words, three-quarters of Jews, were sent to the so-called protective arrest – a euphemism used to describe concentration camps, the author claimed.

For Mr Schuster, it is paramount that these historic events be constantly remembered as the pogroms were targeted at all German Jews and took place before the eyes of all Germans. He went on to claim that today a cultural and scientific paradigm shift has come about, hurting the fundamental precepts of the Federal Republic of Germany – remembering Shoah (the Holocaust) as the outset of the country’s identity-building.

The writer went on to say that seeing the Holocaust as the bedrock of modern Germany’s identity is “not obvious”, and that it needed to be laboriously kept in the public memory. He added that without a living culture of remembrance one could not speak of a culture of a democratic Federal Republic of Germany.

As for German society, he identified its task as preserving the memory of Shoah and the continuous development thereof.

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