'We will fight for our Germany': Holocaust survivor issues warning to far right

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'We will fight for our Germany': Holocaust survivor issues warning to far right
Knobloch addressing the Bundestag on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Holocaust survivor Charlotte Knobloch on Wednesday called for a stronger defence of the country's "fragile" democracy and issued a searing rebuke to the far right: "We will fight for our Germany".


In an emotional speech to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Knobloch told the Bundestag lower house of parliament that extremists and conspiracy theorists were exploiting fears around the pandemic and a diversifying society.

"We must not forget for a single day how fragile the precious achievements of the last 76 years are" since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on January 27th, 1945.

"Anti-Semitic thought and words draw votes again, are socially acceptable again -- from schools to corona protests and of course the internet, that catalyst for hatred and incitement of all kinds."


Knobloch, 88, a former leader of Germany's 200,000-strong Jewish community who survived the Holocaust in hiding as a child in Bavaria, warned that the enemies of democracy are stronger than many think".

"I call on you: take care of our country," she said, describing right-wing extremism as "the greatest danger for all" in Germany.

'You lost your fight'

Addressing deputies of the hard-right Alternative for Germany, the largest opposition group in parliament with nearly 100 seats, Knobloch accused many of its followers of "picking up the tradition" of the Nazis.

"I tell you: you lost your fight 76 years ago," Knobloch said. "You will continue to fight for your Germany and we will keep fighting for our Germany."

Knobloch fought back tears as she recounted the terror of the Nazis' rise and the deportation of her grandmother, Albertine Neuland, to the Theresienstadt concentration camp where she starved to death in 1944.

READ ALSO: 'Fight against forgetting': Germany marks Holocaust anniversary in shadow of coronavirus

"I stand before you as a proud German, against all odds and although much still makes it unlikely. Sadness, pain, desperation and loneliness accompany me."

The window of a new synagogue which opened in Konstanz in November 2019. Photo: DPA

But she said Germany's enduring commitment to reckon with its history made her hopeful.

"I am proud of the young people in our country. They are free of guilt for the past but they assume responsibility for today and tomorrow: interested,
passionate and courageous."

However Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble, a respected elder statesman,
warned that the German consensus around atonement for the Nazis' crimes, long
seen as part of the bedrock of the post-war order, was showing signs of vulnerability.

He told the chamber it was "devastating" to admit that "our remembrance culture does not protect us from a brazen reinterpretation or even a denial of history".

"And it doesn't protect us from new forms of racism and anti-Semitism," said Schaeuble, 78.

Jewish journalist and activist Marina Weisband, 33, also urged continued vigilance.

"To be Jewish in Germany is to know it happened and can happen again," she said.

"Anti-Semitism doesn't begin when shots are fired at a synagogue," she said, referring to an extremist attack in the eastern city of Halle in October 2019.

READ ALSO: 'It doesn't change my feeling about Germany': Jewish community fearful but defiant after Halle attack

"The Shoah did not begin with gas chambers... It is not extinct, this conviction that there are people whose dignity is worth more than others'."

Germany has officially marked Holocaust Remembrance Day every January 27th
since 1996 with a solemn ceremony at the Bundestag featuring a speech by a survivor and commemorations across the country.

Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, more than one million were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, most in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including homosexuals, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.


This year's anniversary is marked by growing concerns about extremist violence and incitement in Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken of her "shame" over rising anti-Semitism, as the Jewish community has warned that coronavirus conspiracy theories are being used to stir hatred.

In a speech recorded for Remembrance Day, Merkel thanked the elderly survivors "who muster the strength to tell the story of their lives".

"Their first-hand accounts show us just how vulnerable human dignity is and
how easily the values that underpin peaceful coexistence can be violated," she

Anti-Jewish crimes have risen steadily, with 2,032 offences recorded in 2019, up 13 percent on the previous year, according to the latest official figures.


Comments (5)

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Anonymous 2021/01/31 09:16<br />Well if this can happen to a doctor for simply disagreeing with the evidence he sees before him, this is a dangerous path. All those things you listed Eben Marks, all horrible & disgusting, can easily happen again in this age. You make sound observations of history, but you neglect the stages of control & silencing people being implemented before those gruesome acts were finally enacted.
Anonymous 2021/01/27 22:57
Eben Marks - thank you for your sound observation and comments. Stay well and wonderful.
Anonymous 2021/01/27 20:18
Adrian, Denise - people not sharing your opinions on Covid-19 is not the same as you being victims of the Holocaust. Your businesses and places of work haven't been burned down, your treasured possessions haven't been stolen, you haven't been transported to a cholera ridden ghetto hundreds of miles from home, you haven't then been forced into a cattle car and sent to a camp to provide slave labour, and you haven't been gassed to death. Please get some perspective.
Anonymous 2021/01/27 18:13
I agree with Adrian, anyone who doesn't agree with the Government and the left dominated MSM is labelled far right. Anyone who questions the current situation is labelled a covid denier and far right. People should ask why big tech wants to ban free speech sites. Why people are too scared to say what they really think because they could loose their jobs. The Western World is rushing into a Chinese style dictatorship. People are asleep and they should be waking up. How about no Vaccine = no travel no theatre no concerts no attending festivals or sports events etc. Lets see how many people get complications from this untested vaccine. After all the pharma companies producing it have full legal indemnity. <br />Amazingly the MSM are starting to report deaths caused by it.
Anonymous 2021/01/27 16:39
Who are the Nazi's now? The people who write laws giving permission for those who 'they' deem a threat to be locked up in camps? Sounds pretty disgusting, sounds like what the current government is doing. <br />You speak of history but you seem to forget the facts. See any correlation here?

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