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ANTI-SEMITISM

Holocaust survivor urges Germany to fight ‘cancer’ of hatred

In what was expected to be one of the last addresses by a Holocaust survivor to the German parliament, Inge Auerbacher appealed Thursday to keep alive the victims' memory.

Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher speaks addresses the Bundestag
Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher speaks addresses the Bundestag on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Fighting back tears as she recalled the suffering and loss she endured at the hands of the Nazis, Auerbacher told the Bundestag as it marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day that it was essential to fight the spreading “cancer” of hatred.

“I have lived in New York for 75 years and can still remember well this terrible time of terror and hate,” said Auerbacher, 87, who flew to Berlin in the face of the pandemic to take part in the ceremonies.

“Unfortunately this cancer has resurfaced and hatred of Jews is common in many countries of the world including Germany,” she said on the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

READ ALSO: Tourist detained for Nazi salute at Auschwitz

“This sickness must be healed as soon as possible,” she said to applause from MPs, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his cabinet.

Auerbacher said she had been the last Jewish child born in her hometown of Kippenheim in 1934 before the Nazis’ genocidal campaign.

While her grandmother was deported to Riga and murdered, Auerbacher and her parents were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp when she was just seven years old.

She recounted the abuse and horrific conditions she and her family endured, but also her close friendship at the camp with a Jewish girl her age from Berlin, Ruth Nelly Abraham, who was later murdered at Auschwitz.

Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher

Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher shows the yellow star she was made to wear as a child. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

Auerbacher will on Friday visit the family’s home to place candles at small plaques in their memory.

The speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Mickey Levy, who was also in attendance embraced Auerbacher and wept openly as he recited a prayer for the dead.

“Keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is a difficult task, a task placed on the shoulders of the every generation,” he said.

Germany has officially marked Holocaust Remembrance Day every January 27 since 1996 with commemorations across the country.

READ ALSO: Four words that tell us something about German culture

Scholz’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit noted that Germany would “soon have to go forward without the personal recollections of the last survivors”.

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, particularly among militant opponents of government coronavirus restrictions.

The number of crimes committed by right-wing extremists jumped in 2020 to its highest level ever recorded in the post-war period, an over five-percent rise to 23,604.

Member comments

  1. A timely reminder of how the Nuremberg code and clause 2 of the German constitution came about and why there are some powers that a Parliament should never take upon itself – whatever the majority – and which are simply forbidden in a civilised state.

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ANTI-SEMITISM

Police deployed at German synagogue after bullet holes found

German police staged a major deployment at a synagogue in the western city of Essen on Friday after several bullet holes were found in the adjacent former rabbi's residence.

Police deployed at German synagogue after bullet holes found

Police said “four shots were fired from a loaded weapon” into the exterior of the home next to the city’s Old Synagogue but that no one was injured.

Officers were inspecting the site with sniffer dogs for any explosives.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said he was “shocked by this latest attack on Jewish life in Germany”.

“Anti-Semitism must have no place. It is our duty to protect Jewish life,” he tweeted.

Media reports said the shots were fired overnight and reported on Friday morning. They targeted a glass door at the entryway of the residence and two bullets pierced the glass.

State interior minister Herbert Reul told local media that the alleged assailant, a man, had been captured on a security camera but was still at large.

The incident came three years after a gunman killed two people in the eastern city of Halle after failing to storm a synagogue on Yom Kippur.

Before the attack, he had posted a racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic manifesto online.

Germany in May reported a new record in the number of politically motivated crimes last year, including a nearly 29-percent jump in anti-Semitic crimes to 3,027.

Seven decades after the Holocaust in which the Nazi regime slaughtered six million Jews, the vast majority of the offences — 2,552 — were attributed to the far-right scene.

Essen’s Old Synagogue was built in the early 20th century but its interior was largely destroyed by the Nazis in the November 1938 pogrom.

It underwent a thorough restoration and reopened as an expanded Jewish Culture House for interfaith dialogue in 2010.

READ ALSO: ‘We will fight for our Germany’: Holocaust survivor issues warning to far right

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