Newsletter : 6fax0110.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Jan. 10, 1996 V4, #3
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Germany Declares Holocaust Remembrance Day by Dagmar Breitenbach (VOA-Bonn)
The German government has declared Jan. 27 a National Day of
Remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust in World War II.
German President Roman Herzog said the observance of what is being
called the "Day of Remembrance of the victims of National
Socialism" is meant to express sorrow for suffering and loss, to
remember the victims and to guard against renewal of Nazism.
In a statement, the president said the Nazi terror must never be
forgotten. He added, the memory must also remind future
generations to be watchful.
The date was chosen to mark Jan. 27, 1945, The day Soviet soldiers
liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. Herzog said Auschwitz
stands as a symbol for genocide and for the millions of people who
were deprived of their rights, persecuted, tortured, and murdered by
the Nazi regime.
The day will not be a public holiday, but will be marked in
schools. Germany's Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, also
plans a special commemoration to mark the national day.
Berlin Jews Built Synagogue Nearly 300 Years Ago
By Nina Keck (VOA-Berlin)
Berlin's first synagogue was built in the early 1700s. A century
and a half later, the Jewish community had grown tremendously and
a second, newer synagogue was built. With its brick work and gold
domes, the new synagogue -- as it has always been called -- became
a Berlin landmark until it was destroyed by bombs in World War II.
After extensive reconstruction, the new synagogue reopened in May
-- this time as a museum and monument to the city's historic Jewish
It's hard to miss the new synagogue. With its Moorish-styled domes
and oriental architecture, it looks more like a Middle Eastern
mosque than a synagogue. But historian Christiane Schutz says by
the 1920s, the building -- located in the center of Berlin -- was
the heart of the city's thriving Jewish community.
"This was then the end of the community, in a way, because in the
20s there lived around 170,000 Jews in Berlin -- which was more
than two thirds of the Jewish population in Germany -- and there
were 13 synagogues and more than 100 private synagogues around
During the 1920s and early 1930s, the new synagogue was a gathering
place for many of Germany's most-famous Jews, including physicist
Albert Einstein. But, by the mid-1930s, the situation had
changed in Berlin. With anti-Semitism growing under Hitler,
thousands of Jews fled the city.
Miraculously, in 1938 -- during the infamous Kristallnacht, the
night of broken glass -- when Nazi troops destroyed synagogues and
jewish shops all over Germany, Berlin's new synagogue was spared.
Hitler's troops had already set part of the building on fire when
Wilhelm Krutzfeld, a local police chief, courageously chased off
the arsonists and saw that the blaze was put out. It was the only
Jewish synagogue in Germany to be protected by a German official.
.By 1940, the German armed forces had taken over the Jewish landmark
and used it as a warehouse until allied bombers destroyed most of
the building in 1943. Today, more than 50 years later, the golden
domes of the new synagogue once again celebrate Judaism and stand
as a memorial to the tens of thousands of Berliners who were
murdered during the Nazi Holocaust. Curator Schutz says the various
artifacts and photographs on display in the synagogue remind
visitors of the once-vibrant community that no longer exists in
"The Jews were part of the middle class -- doctors, lawyers,
shopkeepers -- and they were also very visible in the society.
This is what is totally destroyed, because these people were either
murdered or forced to emigrate and what was built up after the
war...the people came from the concentration camps -- the
survivors were mostly no connections with Berlin."
Under the museum's vaulted ceilings, glass cases hold worn prayer
books and photographs, religious icons, paintings, wedding
certificates and other personal mementos. An old fashioned hat
box, from a shop owned by the Rosenblum family, stands by itself
in a display case. Schutz explains: "It's not something special,
but we place it here because it's very rare now and this also shows
how deep the destruction goes that there's nothing left of these
people here of this whole texture of the city that disappeared --
the very normal daily life is not here anymore -- Jewish. It's
Schutz says like the Jewish people -- the new synagogue has
survived. And, with more than 10 thousand visitors a week, she
believes the museum will help the Jews and non-Jews of Berlin move
beyond the shadows of the past.
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