German cities projected images of synagogues that were destroyed or damaged by the Nazis in their former locations to mark the anniversary of the antisemitic 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom on Tuesday.
Some Austrian cities also joined the project. In total, 18 cities marked the day with the somber displays.
The head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, which organized the virtual reconstructions together with the World Jewish Congress, warned that knowledge of the Kristallnacht events is declining.
“The pogrom of 1938, which at the time did not provoke widespread protests by citizens, should always be remembered in Germany as a warning,” said Josef Schuster.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier commemorated the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht — the “Night of Broken Glass” — when Nazis, among them many ordinary Germans, terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.
In a speech in Berlin, Steinmeier talked about November 9, 1938, when the Nazis killed at least 91 people, vandalized around 7,500 Jewish businesses and burned more than 1,400 synagogues.
The president also pointed out that other significant events also happened on Nov. 9: in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, sending East Germans flooding west and setting in motion events that soon led to the country’s reunification. And in 1918, when Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed Germany a republic at the end of World War I.
“Nov. 9 is an ambivalent day, a bright and a dark day,” Steinmeier said. “It makes our hearts pound and brings tears to our eyes. It makes us hope for the good that is in our country, and it makes us despair in the face of its abysses.”
Nov. 9, 1938, is also remembered in Austria. On Tuesday afternoon, the country was set to inaugurate a “Wall of Memories” in Vienna with the names of 64,000 Austrian Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
Separately, activists “renamed” some 23 streets in Vienna overnight Monday-Tuesday which they said honor antisemites, former members of Hitler’s Nazi party, and even soldiers and officers in the SS and SA paramilitary groups known for their participation in the Holocaust.
The protest was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogroms on November 9 and 10, and involved roughly 20 activists, a source told The Times of Israel.