Levy in Cologne

After 70 years: German deaf association apologizes

Decades after World War II, Germany's Union of the Deaf expresses ‘deep sorrow for suffering caused to so many deaf Jews’

Almost 70 years have passed since the onset of World War II, yet only last week saw a reconcilement effort in Cologne, Germany, bringing together representatives of the Israeli and German associations for the deaf.


“We would like to officially express our deep sorrow for the suffering caused to so many deaf Jews,” the German representatives wrote in a letter.


“There was always a connection between the associations,” Doron Levy, a sign-language teacher and chairman of the Association of the Deaf in Israel, wrote to Ynet.


“The German association of the deaf is also joining in the ‘house cleaning’... taking place within German organizations and companies. Jews living in Germany pressured the association into reconciling but it just recently agreed to do so,” said Levy.


'We ask you for forgiveness'

The letter written by the German association also noted that the Reich Union of the Deaf of Germany (REGEDE) did not fulfill its original purpose of defending and advancing all its deaf members. "We are aware of the union’s failures and therefore ask you for forgiveness," the union wrote.


The connection was made via the German union’s chairman at an international conference in Spain in July 2007, and its fruits have now been reaped.


Levy, who personally received the reconciliation letter, wrote excitedly about the event, saying that “the German welfare minister came and 1,200 people were in the huge hall. Most of them were deaf, of course.


“It was emotional, spine-chilling and positive. The feeling is very positive amongst the Germans and the cultural festival included important lectures dealing with the repercussions of the Nazi regime. As we know, the Nazis sterilized the German deaf and approximately 60,000 handicapped people were murdered between the years 1933 and 1945,” said Levy.


The Israeli association was founded in 1944 towards the end of the World War II by refugees who managed to escape Nazi Germany.


One of the founders is 92-year-old Moshe Bamberger, who has yet to be informed about the reconciliation.


“I still haven’t shared this with him. I am sure that he and the rest of the deaf refugees and Holocaust survivors view this as a closing of a circle,” said the association head.


פרסום ראשון: 09.02.08, 12:34
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