On Thursday, November 9, Germany commemorates the 85th anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogrom under Nazi rule, known as Kristallnacht. The attacks at that time, during which tens of people lost their lives and thousands more ended up in concentration camps, are generally perceived as one of the darkest events in German history, which must never be repeated.
This year, memories of the anti-Semitic looting of 1938 are more urgent than ever. The conflict in the Middle East also spilled over into the Federal Republic and was reflected in an increase in hate speech against Jews and Israel. Similar to France, opinions are now heard in Germany that Jews can no longer feel safe there.
“The radical demonstrations in the streets of Europe are terrible. They are directed against the general public, not only against Jews,” Herbert Rubinstein told RAZ. He was reacting to thousands of protests in German cities, during which mainly immigrants from Arab countries and their descendants verbally attack the Jewish state, its inhabitants and members of the Jewish faith.
Rubinstein, who lives in Düsseldorf and spent his childhood in the ghetto during the war and escaped transport to a concentration camp with his family only thanks to false documents, tries not to fall into pessimism, but some other Jews in Germany are already losing hope.
“It doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t matter how much I say, how much we organize it, it only incites more hatred and it’s all the more unpleasant for us,” lamented Nicole Pastuhoff, head of the Jewish student association in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who spoke in the past four weeks at many gatherings. She was recently crushed by footage of a mob of fanatical Muslims at the airport in Makhachkala, Dagestan, who wanted to attack passengers from a flight from Tel Aviv. But she has been vigilant in public since October 7, when terrorists from the Palestinian Hamas movement murdered dozens of people in Israel.
Anti-Semitic attacks in Germany on the rise
Covered yarmulkes, children without school uniforms and most recently an arson attack on a synagogue. Middle East crisis fuels anti-Semitic attacks in Germany.
Top German politicians, celebrities and commentators have already reacted to the new wave of anti-Semitism in the previous days with a series of statements in which they strongly condemned any attacks on fellow Jews and assured that Germany continues to stand by Israel.
During Thursday’s commemorative events on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, these appeals sounded even more strongly.
“Every form of anti-Semitism is poison for our society. This also applies to current Islamist demonstrations and gatherings. We will not tolerate anti-Semitism. Nowhere,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a memorial service in Berlin’s Beth Zion Synagogue.
After years of a benevolent approach to immigration, the Germans are both running out of capacity and realizing that immigrants from Islamic countries also bring anti-Semitism with them.
His words reminded us that Germany, even under the influence of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, has woken up to a welcoming immigration policy that has attracted hundreds of thousands of people from Islamic countries to the country in recent years.
“Whoever commits anti-Semitism also risks losing their residence permit,” threatened the chancellor.
Already in the morning, a commemorative event took place in the Federal Assembly. In a speech there, Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser announced that, following the recent bans on the activities of the Hamas movement and another Palestinian association, Samidun, whose members celebrated the bloody attacks on Israel by handing out sweets in Berlin a month ago, further measures against extremists are being prepared.
“Whoever abuses freedom of speech to promote the inhumane crimes of Hamas cannot invoke the protection of freedom of expression,” the minister said.