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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 population.

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 the city."

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 Berlin.

"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 missing."

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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