Commemoration of 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht
With today's society in mind, Knobloch stressed that Kristallnacht had not come out of the blue, that before and after the pogrom, many people had preferred to look the other way and not to say anything. She said it was necessary to draw lessons from history and to be more sensitive "to the quiet and not so quiet signals" of undemocratic, racist and anti-Semitic attitudes. Knobloch called once again for a ban on the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) and for more determination in dealing with the "brown pied pipers". She said that only "vital, lived democracy" could effectively withstand them. Charlotte Knobloch concluded her emotional speech with an appeal to the youth: "Don't let anybody tell you whom to love or whom to hate."
In her speech at the anniversary ceremony, the Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called the Kristallnacht pogrom a "crime that threw open the floodgates of violence". She said that she could not and did not want to judge but found it important to remember the consequences. Merkel stressed that it had been, among other things, the silence of many people, from individuals to large sections of the church, that had led to the "breakdown of civilisation which was the Shoah". Like Charlotte Knobloch, the Chancellor called on society to learn from the past and to combat xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. She said the wrong belief that we are not affected when something happens to our neighbours leads to catastrophe. With regard to Israel, Merkel declared: "It is one of the most fundamental principles of the state of Germany to ensure the security of Israel." She said that it was the duty of every federal and state government, every city and municipality to support Jewish life and culture in Germany and that Jewish life "must have a good home in Germany" today. (09.11.2008)