Germany’s head of state has warned that anti-Semitism is re-emerging. On the anniversary of the November pogroms, Federal President Steinmeier called for action. Jewish life must be protected.

On the anniversary of the Pogrom Night, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for consistent action against anti-Semitism in Germany. He was ashamed that Jews with a kippah did not feel safe on the streets in this country and that Jewish houses of prayer had to be protected, Steinmeier said in a joint video message with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his Austrian counterpart Alexander van der Bellen.

"We stand together, in Vienna, in Jerusalem, in Berlin," the three presidents continued. The message is part of a joint worldwide campaign in commemoration of the November pogroms of 1938 under the title "Let there be light". "I am ashamed that a fatal attack on the synagogue in Halle a year ago on Yom Kippur was only prevented by a heavy wooden door," said Steinmeier. However, it is not enough to describe reality: "We have to act." Steinmeier again committed to the fight against anti-Semitism and to the protection of Jewish life.

Steinmeier said he was grateful "that the authorities in Germany are living up to their responsibilities by increasing police protection for synagogues and pursuing anti-Semitic crimes with all the severity of the law".

"Disgusting outbreak of violence"

During the November pogroms on the night of November 9-10, 1938, National Socialists set synagogues, Jewish shops and apartments on fire all over Germany and abused, kidnapped and murdered Jewish citizens. According to different estimates, between 400 and 1300 people were killed or driven to suicide in what was then Reich territory.

This "disgusting outbreak of violence" did not mark the beginning of the persecution of the Jews in Germany, said the Federal President. The pogroms followed "for many years of discrimination, intimidation and hostility". "They were a harbinger of the incredible crimes of the Shoah that my compatriots would commit a few years later," said Steinmeier. They are an urgent warning to today’s generations, emphasized Steinmeier.

The Federal President warned not to leave the colors black, red and gold to the extremists. "Those who despise parliamentary democracy and human rights have no right to invoke these colors," he said in memory of the democrat and freedom fighter Robert Blum who was executed by the imperial military on November 9, 1848.

"Shame on the Country"

Other representatives of politics and religion also reminded of the crime. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized the value of the culture of remembrance. "Remembering means drawing the right conclusions for today and tomorrow from yesterday," he said. Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht announced more intensive action against anti-Jewish statements on the Internet. The hatred against Jews is "a shame for our country," she told the "Rheinische Post"

The anti-Semitism commissioner of the federal government, Felix Klein, told the RBB that today you can see how the country failed morally out of indifference or submission. He encouraged those affected and witnesses to report anti-Semitic incidents: "This is the only way something can change. We have to make the problem visible in order to overcome it as a society."

To this day, the memory of the indifference of most of their neighbors is the most horrific thing for Jewish survivors of this night of horror, "which they have not been able to cope with to this day," said the Executive Vice-President of the International Auschwitz Committee, Christoph Heubner. The Fulda Bishop Michael Gerber warned against extremism. A radicalization, "in which the basic rules of human coexistence are relativized," is apparently quickly possible, he told the "Fuldaer Zeitung".

Commemoration ceremony on social networks

A memorial service is planned for this evening at Rivlin’s Jerusalem residence with international online participation. The speakers include the outgoing director of the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem, Avner Schalev, and the former Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. According to the President’s Office, the celebration will be broadcast live on Rivlin’s social media channels. In the evening, prayers and messages from all over the world will also be projected onto the walls of Jerusalem’s old town.

The campaign of the international education project "March of the Living" called for lights to be on in places of worship, institutions and private homes around the world on the night of November 9th. So far, dozens of places of worship are said to have participated.