Challenges facing the Jewish Community in Germany after Seventy Years

Posted on Sep 15, 2020
Raleigh, NC

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported today of a ceremony to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Central Council in Germany[1]. The Council was formed in 1950 originally to help Jews who found themselves stranded in Germany leave the country. In the years since it has become an advocacy group for the Germany Jewish community.

The event was attended by members of the council, current and former German policitians and prominent members of society. Chancellor Merkel, ex-Chancellor Schröder, President of the Bundestag Schäuble, and Friede Springer (of the famous Springer Publishing Group) attended.

At the event, the Council’s president Josef Schuster spoke of the history of the Council and current challenges it faces. He said that there’s a “discomfort” in the German Jewish community, leading to some Jews choosing to keep the Star of David under their sweatshirts or declining to wear shirts with Hebrew script on them. He thinks that while the majority of Germany stands in solidarity with the Jewish community, some political parties (AfD) and movements have started using Jewish icongraphy in a disrespectful manner. For example, recent protests against public health restrictions in response to COVID-19 have used images of Anne Frank and the gold star that Jews were forced to wear during the Third Reich to claim that the public health restrictions are analogous. Schuster wishes that actual holocaust survivors not have to experience political usage of these symbols[2].

Chancellor Merkel agrees. She says that some social media posts drip of “hate and baiting”[3]. Eduction and explanations are important, but when they’re insufficient in stemming antisemitism, then the German state must step in to fulfill its constitutional obligations.

[1] Entitled Schuster sieht wachsendes “Unbehagen” der Juden in Deutschland and published on September 15, 2020 in the Süddeutsches Zeitung.

[2] Er kenne Überlebende der Schoah, so Schuster, und er würde sich wünschen, dass sie “diese widerliche Instrumentalisierung nicht erleben müssten”.

[3] “von Hass und Hetze”