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Jewish group boycotts Holocaust ceremony

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Jewish group boycotts Holocaust ceremony
Berlin's Holocaust memorial near the Reichstag and Brandeburg Gate. Photo: DPA
19:23 CET+01:00
Germany's leading Jewish group on Tuesday boycotted a ceremony marking the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where German President Horst Köhler called for more solidarity with the Jewish community.

The German Jewish Council stayed away from an event in Germany's parliament the Bundestag in response to what they say is a lack of respect in previous years.

"The members of the Central Council in the audience were never personally welcomed," general secretary Stephan Kramer told daily Der Tagesspiegel, explaining such acknowledgment would have been appropriate considering some were Holocaust survivors.

He also slammed what he said was a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Germany.

"There is a creeping hostility toward Jews, more and more in the centre of society," Kramer said in an interview published on Holocaust Memorial Day marking the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.

Speaking at the Bundestag ceremony, President Köhler said Germans should show more solidarity with the Jewish community - one of the fastest growing in the world with about 100,000 members.

"Let us stand side-by-side with our Jewish compatriots ... anyone who attacks them, attacks us all," he said.

Köhler said it was a "scandal" that synagogues in Germany had to be guarded against extremists. "Those who do not confront their history have no basis on which to build a future," Köhler said to an audience that included Chancellor Angela Merkel and several representatives of Germany's political elite.

Kramer said Germany should be praised for the dozens of ceremonies held throughout the country in honour of Holocaust victims, but said there was little reason for optimism about the state of Jewish life in the country. He said that more than six decades after the Nazis' slaughter of six million European Jews, hostilities in the Middle East were fuelling a bitter brand of anti-Semitism in Germany.

"We noticed that during the Gaza war, the amount of hate mail to the Council rose 40 percent to 200 to 300 mails per week," he was quoted as saying.

Kramer said one in 10 included "explicit death threats against specifically named members of the Council."

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