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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Kristallnacht memorial stolen from Jewish cemetery in Germany

Police say it's unclear whether deed was motivated by anti-Semitic reasons; Jewish community of Cologne calls upon residents to help retrieve the monument.

A 750-kilogram monument commemorating Kristallnacht has been stolen from the Jewish cemetery in Cologne, less than a week after a memorial event marked 72 years since the German pogrom.

The thieves broken open the backdoor of the cemetery on Sunday night, German police officers told the local Express newspaper. Police believe the perpetrators detached the monument from its pedestal, loaded it unto a vehicle and drove off. It is still unclear whether the deed was motivated by anti-Semitic reasons, police are quoted as saying.

The Jewish community of Cologne released a statement saying it is "very distraught by this outrageous act" and called upon residents of the city to help retrieve the bronze monument.

Community leaders said they would pay a reward of 4,000 euros for clues leading to the recovery of the memorial.

The theft comes almost a year after a group of thieves stole an iconic sign from the entrance of the Auschwitz death camp. That sign was later recovered.

The monument, which stands 2.8 meters high and 1.2 meters wide, memorializes ritual objects that were saved and buried on November 10, 1938, immediately after Kristallnacht. They were discovered by accident in 1978 during construction work and subsequently buried according to Jewish tradition in the cemetery.

Created by sculptor Franz Lipensky, the monument shows six Stars of David, two Torah scrolls and a menorah.