Surge in German attacks on Jews (LONDON SUNDAY TIMES) By Justin Sparks, Berlin 11/23/03
LONDON TIMES Articles-Index-Top
THE bespectacled British-born rabbi did not stand a chance. As Walter
Rothschild walked through an underground station in Berlin, four
youths kicked and beat him, leaving him for dead. “I was beaten black
and blue and covered in blood,” said Rothschild, 49, who moved from
Bradford to Germany five years ago. “I’m not the only one. People
spit at us, shout racist remarks, vandalise our graveyards and spray
graffiti on our schools.”
Germany is enduring a new bout of soul-searching over its Nazi past
after a senior member of the opposition Christian Democratic Union
(CDU) caused outrage by claiming that European Jews had committed
crimes comparable with the Holocaust.
Martin Hohmann, the MP, was expelled from the parliamentary party but
only after receiving support from a number of colleagues. Angela
Merkel, the CDU leader, called last week for a national debate to
redefine “German patriotism” and “love for the Fatherland”.
Immigration from eastern Europe has turned Germany’s Jewish community
into the fastest growing and most vibrant in Europe. Rothschild,
whose parents fled the Nazis in the 1930s, returned to help.
As the number of Jews grows, old stereotypes are being revived. More
than a third of people polled last week by Stern, the news magazine,
said they thought the Jews were trying to “take advantage” of their
suffering under Hitler and “make the Germans pay for it”.
Some 35% said they thought the Jews’ primary allegiance lay with
Israel rather than with Germany, and 61% thought it time to “draw a
line” under discussion about the Holocaust.
Such attitudes are too often expressed in assaults: after two New
York rabbis were assaulted in Berlin earlier this year, local police
advised against the wearing of skullcaps and jewellery chains
depicting the star of David.
The anti-semitism is being fuelled by anger about Israeli policies
towards the Palestinians, particularly among German Muslims. A Jewish
school in Berlin was recently defaced with the words, “Six million
was not enough”, referring to the number killed in the Holocaust.
Last month the German secret service uncovered an alleged neo-Nazi
plot to assassinate Jews at a ceremony in Munich to mark the
completion of a cultural centre. Fifty houses were also raided by
police in a crackdown on the German wing of the British organisation
A week earlier, three neo-Nazis were convicted of torturing and
killing a 16-year-old because he “looked like a Jew”. The boy died
after his skull was smashed by their steel-capped boots.
According to Rothschild, many teachers are reluctant to discuss the
Holocaust with pupils. He also sees the tensions as the result of a
recent series of books looking at the suffering endured by Germans
during the war.
“For half a century they weren’t allowed to mourn for what they
suffered,” said Rothschild. “It was bound to come out at some point,
but I hope we don’t have to suffer for it in the process.”
(Copyright 2003 Times Newspapers Ltd. 11/23/03)
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