When the head of Germany's main Jewish organization said only one Bundestag party was not invited to Friday's commemoration of the Kristallnacht pogroms, few had any doubt: He meant the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, or AfD. And it was the only remark at the event that drew spontaneous applause.
Speaking at the soaring Rykestrasse Synagogue in Berlin, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel looking up at him from the front pew, Josef Schuster called on Germans to fight xenophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiments, and in particular to oppose the unnamed "spiritual arsonists" who belittle the Holocaust and "mock its victims and survivors."
At a ceremony broadcast live nationwide, Schuster called the recent demonstrations against hate in Germany "encouraging." He cited hundreds of thousands of courageous people, dedicated to democracy, who "won't let Germany just drift off to the right."