Translated as the Night of Broken Glass, Kristallnacht was the night in which Nazis smashed Jewish-owned shops throughout Germany, killing 91 while defacing and ransacking synagogues in a pogrom. Merkel said Sunday its anniversary obliges Germans to act against racism and anti-Semitism, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
"Indifference is the first step toward endangering essential values," Merkel said during a speech at the old synagogue in Berlin's Rykestrasse. "Xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism must never be given an opportunity in Europe again."
Kristallnacht, often viewed as the first major act that ultimately led to the Holocaust, was met with indifference by many Germans in 1938, Merkel noted.
"There was no storm of protest against the Nazis, but silence, shrugged shoulders and people looking away -- from individual citizens to large parts of the church," Deutsche Welle quoted her as saying. "We cannot be silent, we cannot be indifferent, when Jewish cemeteries are desecrated and rabbis are insulted on the street.