Mr. Kantor, as president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) you deem it very important to remember the 9 November 1938. Why?
Kantor: Nuremberg, Babi Yar and Auschwitz – those are the three names that mark the tragedy that was the Shoah. “Kristallnacht” is part of that; it is one of these terrible events. However, it is important to not just keep the memory of it but also to relate it to the dangers world Jewry is current facing in order to highlight them. This includes growing anti-Semitism as well as the nuclear threat posed by Iran. Remembrance also means to send out a message for today’s world.
In 2008, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of “Kristallnacht”, you are planning a special commemoration. What exactly are you planning?
Kantor: An EJC event in collaboration with the German government. I cannot say anything yet regarding place, date and form of the event. We need to discuss is with our partner. But one thing I can tell already: we are planning something with a European dimension. The Holocaust is the tragedy of European Jewry. That is why a strong signal needs to be sent out from this event.
If you look at commemoration events on 9 November in this country, you will find that very few Russian-speaking Jews take part in them. How about the unifying aspect of remembrance?
Kantor: It was Hitler’s idea to classify Jews into „German Jews“ and „Ostjuden”. We must not allow anybody to do likewise. We are all Jews; we belong together. I have talked a lot with Russian-born Jews in Germany: They feel the same kind of pain whether commemorating in Berlin, Babi Yar or Auschwitz.
Apropos Russia: You are considered close to President Vladimir Putin. Could you explain us his stance on the nuclear dispute with Iran?
Kantor: Israel and Russia are both threatened; both are in reach of Iranian missiles. Therefore, there are common interests. And the message of the international community to Tehran is clear: Either you stop yourselves, or we will stop you.