Berlin celebrates postwar visitor program for expelled Jews

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Berlin is celebrating the 50th anniversary of a reconciliation program that brought tens of thousands of former residents expelled and persecuted by the Nazis back on one-week trips.

Some 35,000 people, most of them Jewish, have participated in the city’s program since 1969.

Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller stressed the significance of their visits despite the Holocaust trauma they suffered from the Germans.

“Many people followed our invitation, people who had lost everything they loved,” he said Wednesday at a ceremony attended by several former program participants.

Mueller added, “I want to express my strong gratitude to you for putting your trust in us.”

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, around 160,500 Jews lived in Berlin. By the end of World War II in 1945, about 7,000 were left.

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