• Germany's news in English

Jewish Games to be held at site of 'Nazi Olympics'

AFP · 26 Jul 2015, 12:18

Published: 26 Jul 2015 12:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"These are the games of reconciliation," Alon Meyer, president of Maccabi Germany, said of the 10-day event where a record 2,300 athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 disciplines, from football to chess.
It is the first time Germany will host the Jewish Olympiad, which was launched in 1929 in Prague for European Jews, followed by the first world games held in 1932 Tel Aviv in what was then British-mandated Palestine.
To be held under tight security, the 14th European Maccabi Games have "strong historical and political significance," said Chancellor Angela Merkel, who expressed Germany's "gratitude" for the rebirth of Jewish life in the country responsible for the Holocaust.
After a memorial service Monday in the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp near the capital, German President Joachim Gauck will Tuesday kick off the Games before 15,000 spectators at the Waldbuehne, an outdoor amphitheatre near the stadium where Adolf Hitler opened the 1936 Summer Olympics.

The main events will take place in the Berlin Olympic Park built for the Nazi-era Games, where the exclusion of Jewish athletes, which had been a worsening trend for decades amid a tide of anti Semitism sweeping Europe, reached its peak.
The ban on Jews in many sports clubs was at the root of the Maccabi movement founded in the late 19th century, said Oren Osterer, a former basketball player and head of the organisation of these Games, speaking on RBB public radio.
Inspired by the Zionist movement, Maccabi was born as a quest for the "muscular Jew", said Alon Meyer. He also pointed to an egalitarian spirit that values juniors, seniors and veterans, not just top performers.

Photo: Rafael Herlich/Maccabi-Games
It also includes disciplines far removed from classic Olympic sports.

Besides basketball, football, tennis, swimming and fencing, the Maccabi Games offer bowling competitions, chess and bridge -- "the sport of Jewish grandmas", joked Osterer.
Off the field, the Games will also try to establish "a non-sports record,” by throwing a Shabbat party that aims to be even bigger than a record-setting get-together last year in Tel Aviv.

Fifty years after then-West Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations, the competition also marks the reassertion of the German Jewish community, whose identity remains troubled by the memory of the Holocaust.
Germany's Jewish community, which had been decimated to a few thousands after WWII, has grown again to some 240,000.
Before the 2011 European Games in Vienna, "nobody wanted to compete as a German" at the Maccabi Games. The German delegation previously would march under the colours of Israel, rather than Germany's black-red-gold national flag, recalled Meyer.
"Some have doubted it is fair to bring the Games to Berlin while there are still Holocaust survivors," he said. "But we are a new generation ... and the question of guilt has been resolved for a long time."
The Maccabi magazine nevertheless devotes several pages to the testimony of Margot Friedlaender, a 93-year-old concentration camp survivor who in 2010 returned to settle in Berlin, and in another article asks: "Can Germany be a homeland for the Jews?"
Rebecca Gop -- speaking for Berlin Jews born after the war who have "scrupulously learned Hebrew" and imagined that their children would one day go to Israel -- describes her ambivalence about her son's attachment to Germany.
"Today, my inner wall has fallen," she said in the Games' "Maccazine".
"But I also know that for many of us it is hard to call this country ‘our home'."'Nazi Game

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd