President Köhler speaks during ceremony
Photo: AFP

German Jews boycott Shoah service in protest of anti-Semitism

Community leaders refuse to attend Berlin ceremony marking International Holocaust Memorial Day due to organizers' failure to acknowledge survivors present at event, as well as sense of growing anti-Semitism in country in recent years

BERLIN - In an unprecedented move the leaders of the Jewish community in Germany decided to boycott the state ceremony marking International Holocaust Memorial Day on Tuesday. The service, which was held in the Bundestag building in Berlin, was attended by the German president and chancellor, and all government and parliament members.


The official reason for the boycott was the fact that in recent years the ceremony's host, the Bundestag speaker, has refrained from mentioning the presence of heads of the Jewish communities at the hall during the event, although all of them are Holocaust survivors.


"It's unacceptable for Holocaust survivors to be seated in the dignitaries section and be treated like audience in a theater – as if the ceremony had nothing to do with them," said Stefan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of German Jews.

Anti-Israel protest in Germany during Gaza op (Photo: AP)


"This attitude reflects the nature of Holocaust commemoration in Germany today. Things aren't done out of profound understanding and intention, but rather in an automatic manner," he added.


The councils Vice President Dr. Dieter Graumann added, "The community leaders find themselves playing a minor role in the event, like they're extras in a film. We ask for more respect."


Growing anti-Semitism, ignorance regarding Nazism

The protest act was also triggered by the Jewish leaders' feeling that as anti-Semitism in German society has grown in recent years, the commemoration of the Shoah has taken a turn for the worse.


During Israel's offensive in Gaza attacks on Jews in the country rose exponentially, without a proper response by the authorities. A televised debate on the Mideast conflict which aired on public network ARD last week was also filled with blatant anti-Semitism.


The decision to boycott the service received wide support from members of the Jewish community. "Something has finally been done," said a senior Jewish activist. "The state of things in German society has become intolerable. Anti-Semitism has crossed the line.


"The general notion held by the public is that these memorials are unnecessary. People in Germany had rather hold ceremonies in memory of the bombing of Dresden than of Auschwitz's liberation," she concluded.


German President Horst Köhler said in his speech during Tuesday's service that Germany is committed to remembering and commemorating the crimes of Nazism, and its victims. "It is for us a national task," he stated.


Kohler expressed concern over the fact that the young generations in Germany lacked basic knowledge about Nazism and the Holocaust. He called on Germans to act more firmly against Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis. "The fact that Jewish centers should be guarded by the police against new and old extremists is a disgrace. Those who attack Jews attack every one of us," he declared.


פרסום ראשון: 01.28.09, 09:30
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