November 9, 2008 / 12:40 PM / 10 years ago

German-born pope voices pain over 1938 Nazi pogrom

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - German-born Pope Benedict voiced on Sunday his lingering pain over the night 70 years ago when the Nazis whipped up anti-Jewish riots in a pogrom known as the “Kristallnacht,” a harbinger of the Holocaust.

Germany marks the anniversary on Sunday of the 1938 pogrom known as “the Night of Broken Glass” after the smashed windows of the thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues that were attacked and torched by Adolf Hitler’s followers.

At least 91 Jews were killed in the violence whipped up by Nazi stormtroopers and about 26,000 were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

“Still today I feel pain over what happened in those tragic events, whose memory must serve to ensure such horrors are never repeated and that we strive, on every level, against all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination ... ,” said the pope.

“I invite people to pray for the victims of that night and to join me in expressing profound solidarity with the Jewish world,” the pontiff told crowds at the Vatican after his regular Sunday Angelus address.

Pope Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927, was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a teenager, though both his parents opposed the Nazis.

Earlier this year the pontiff spoke in New York about his teenage years being “marred by a sinister regime.”

The pope is currently being lobbied by Holocaust survivors and their descendants to halt the process of making his wartime predecessor Pius XII a saint.

Some Jews accuse Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust. The Vatican says he worked behind the scenes to help save many Jews from certain death.

Writing by Stephen Brown; Editing by Louise Ireland

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