Thousands of Germans Protest Firebombing of Synagogue

from Times Wire Services

Thousands of Germans shamed and enraged by the Passover-eve synagogue firebombing that recalled Nazi pogroms poured into Luebeck's streets Saturday as political leaders urged mass protests.

More than 2,500 people rallied before noon in Luebeck's market square, observing a five-minute silence over the Molotov cocktail attack by suspected neo-Nazis early Friday that left the city's synagogue charred and its tiny 27-strong Jewish community in shock.

Cars pulled to a stop, bridges were closed off, and many people in the northern port city stopped what they were doing in a gesture titled "A City Holds its Breath."

"38/94 Synagogues Are Burning Again--Finally Ban All Nazi Organizations," said one banner brought to the rally. On Nov. 9, 1938, Nazi thugs burned Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues across the country.

In Berlin, about 1,000 people held a 15-minute vigil and then marched to the Brandenburg Gate.

Six occupants, including the synagogue's cantor, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, escaped unhurt in the blast. But the attack wounded the sensibilities of Germans frustrated by a violent minority of Nazi revivalists.

Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel called on Germans to show their disgust with the intolerance of rightist militants with demonstrations and candlelight vigils.

"The Germans must make it clear abroad that these attacks are serious isolated incidents. . .of which we are ashamed," Kinkel told the Bild newspaper. Authorities offered a $30,000 reward.

The attack was widely reported as the first synagogue firebombing in Germany since the Nazi era, although a firebomb was thrown onto the steps of an Essen synagogue Feb. 28. It burned itself out without doing damage.

So far, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said it had found no leads as to attackers.

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