Hanukkia lit in spot Hitler decreed Final Solution

Crowds assemble under Brandenburg Gate in Berlin carrying torches was reminiscent of a different era, darker era.

Hanukkia 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Chabad- Lubavitch)
Hanukkia 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Chabad- Lubavitch)
The large crowd assembled under the imposing Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Tuesday carrying torches was reminiscent of a different era, darker era.
But these were not Nazi stormtroopers, and the year was not 1933. Rather, it was 2011 and the gatherers were taking part in a large Hanukka ceremony.
“We’re standing at the same spot where Adolf Hitler announced his plan to annihilate European Jewry,” said Chabad Rabbi Yehuda Tiechtel of Berlin, who organized the event. “In this same spot we’ll be lighting the menorah with German officials, leaders and ambassadors.”
About 1,000 people, including US Ambassador to Germany Phillip Murphy and several other dignitaries were in attendance, said Tiechtel. During the gathering Jewish students simultaneously lit candles and torches symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.
The Brandenburg Gate was built by Prussian King Fredrick William II in 1788. When the Nazis came to power they used it to stage marches and rallies, including Hitler’s swearing-in ceremony as chancellor in January 1933. After the war, the gate stood in a virtual no-man’s land straddling the border between East and West Berlin. It was where then US president John F.
Kennedy delivered his Ich bin ein Berliner speech and US President Ronald Reagan called on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
After reunification, the gate is again in the middle of a thriving city, only a stone’s throw away from a large museum remembering the Jews murdered by the Nazis and their allies in the Holocaust.
Tiechtel said many non-Jewish passersby attended the ceremony out of curiosity.
“If the purpose of the menorah is light over darkness, there’s no stronger place to express this than here,” he said.