Recalling History on a Day of Light and Darkness

The New York Times
By Michael Slackman
November 9, 2010

BERLIN — Germans felt the push and pull of their history again on Tuesday, when Nov. 9 came up on the calendar. That is the day in 1938 when Hitler’s gangs attacked Jewish property in a prelude to the Holocaust, and the very same day 51 years later when the wall dividing East and West was breached, signaling the end of the cold war.

Germans take the business of remembering very seriously, and so Nov. 9 has always presented a bit of a challenge — how to celebrate the joy of the wall’s coming down while at the same time commemorating the night of terror known as Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass.

Initially, remembrance trumped celebration. But that seems to be changing.

“I think it’s the beginning in the shift in narrative, and that is a concern,” said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office. “It’s a concern of what young people know about this day.”...

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