Merkel at ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht
Merkel at ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday condemned a "worrying" resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany as she spoke in a memorial speech marking 80 years since the Kristallnacht pogrom, CNN reported.

Merkel spoke at Berlin's Rykestrasse Synagogue, one of the 1,400 synagogues that were set ablaze during the 1938 rampage by the Nazi regime against Jewish communities, which caused widespread looting and destruction of Jewish properties across Germany and Austria.

"There are two urgent questions that we need to answer," she said. "First, what did we really learn from the Shoah, this rupture of civilization? And second to the first question: Are our democratic institutions sufficiently strong so that an increase of anti-Semitism, or even if a majority presents anti-Semitism, it can be prevented in the future?"

Merkel noted that that Kristallnacht had "paved the way to the Holocaust," which she described as the "the greatest rupture of civilization." She also said that "the terror of Nazism did not happen overnight but grew gradually," warning that the German public's general acceptance of anti-Semitism is what allowed the Nazi regime to carry out the Holocaust.

Anti-Semitism and racism remain an issue that Germany grapples with today, said Merkel.

"Racism, anti-Semitism and prejudices did not just vanish. If today, 80 years after these pogroms and 70 years after the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany, we look at the situation, we see an ambiguous picture: There is flourishing life, Jewish life, an unexpected gift after the Shoah,” continued the chancellor.

"But at the same time we see a worrying anti-Semitism. Which means Jewish life in this country, and in other places considered safe havens for the world, is threatened. This anti-Semitism has increasingly erupted into incitement of violence online and in public places."

In her speech, Merkel said Germany must draw lessons from its history and must not tolerate anti-Semitism or racism in any form.

She cited several incidents this year, including a violent attack against a young man wearing the kippah in Berlin and one at a Jewish-owned restaurant in the eastern German town of Chemnitz.

She appeared to reference the growing power of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in parliament and appealed for vigilance in protecting democratic institutions and the rights of the individual.

The party has a history of controversial statements, particularly surrounding the Holocaust. Party member Bjoern Hoecke caused a firestorm in February of 2017 when he suggested that Germany should end its decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.

He also criticized the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, saying, "We Germans, our people, are the only people in the world who have planted a monument of shame in the heart of the capital.”

Party co-leader Alexander Gauland in June described the Nazi period as a mere "speck of bird poo in over 1,000 years of successful German history".

A report released this past summer found that Germany has seen an increased number of attacks on Jews during the first half of 2018.

There were 401 officially reported attacks on Jews in Germany from January through June, according to government data, an increase of 10% over the same period last year.

Earlier this year, the German Bundestag approved legislation to establish a new commissioner to handle the issue of rising anti-Semitism in the country.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)