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Berlin

Germans reflect on historic day

The ninth of November carries both positive and negative connotations for Germans. It's the date the Berlin Wall came down - but also an anniversary of Nazi brutality. Germany's president says the two are linked.

On Friday, events were held in Germany to commemorate both the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass.

It was on November 9, 1938, that Nazi paramilitary troops (SA) and civilians embarked on a day of attacks against Jewish people and their property across Germany and Austria.

Many synagogues and Jewish businesses and apartments were damaged or destroyed, and several hundred Jews are believed to have been killed.

German President Joachim Gauck said on Friday that the two days should be remembered together.

"The happy events of November 9, 1989, are a part of the other, bitter November 9," he said at a Jewish high school in Berlin.

A different Germany

Gauck added that instead of the state-sanctioned exclusion of Jews that existed in the 1930s and 1940s, today there was democracy and human rights in Germany.

He said East Germans who took part in the revolution that helped bring about the fall of the wall contributed to the democratic values of modern Germany.

23 years ago: The fall of the Berlin Wall

Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said on the eve of Friday's commemorations that remembering the time before the fall of the wall is even more important than ever.

"A whole generation has grown up without personal memory of the wall and barbed wire," he said.

For that reason, November 9 should serve as a day of reminder that "freedom, the respect of human rights, and the rule of law are not to be taken for granted."

mz/rc (dpa, epd, dapd)

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