Clashes in Prague's Jewish Quarter on anniversary of Krystalnacht

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Dozens of neo-Nazis clashed with thousands of anti-fascists at the border of Prague's Jewish Quarter yesterday on the anniversary of Krystalnacht, the 1938 Nazi attack on Jews and Jewish property in Germany.

Two neo-Nazis lay in a thick pool of blood in front of the Charles University Law Faculty after being kicked and beaten by a group of German anarchists.

A masked spokesman for the anti-Fascist movement said his group had assaulted at least 12 other neo-Nazis in the city centre. The police, however, said only six were injured and 50 were arrested, mostly on weapons charges.

A march by the extreme right Young National Democrats that had been planned for the Jewish Quarter was banned by a Czech high court last week, but the demonstrators the said they would march anyway. Some 1,400 Czech police headed off hundreds of skinheads at a metro stop before they could make their way to the march.

The neo-Nazis were far outnumbered by members of the small Prague Jewish community and their supporters who held a Sabbath prayer vigil before the violence broke out in front of the 13th century Old New Synagogue, the oldest Jewish house of worship in Europe.

"In the 1930s nobody in Europe took these small bands of fascists seriously and look what happened," said Alena Hladkova, 33, who turned up to the counter-protest. "So the neo-Nazi movement might be small, but we need to show them they cannot dare desecrate the memory of the Holocaust," she said.

Jews and non-Jews donned yellow six-pointed stars inscribed with "Jude", a badge identical to that which Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Anna Hydrakova, a survivor of the Terezin concentration camp, told the crowd: "I cannot understand after all that has happened here, how neo-Nazis can even exist."