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Berlin Mayor Dismisses Significance of Recent Anti-semitic Incidents

Mayor Willy Brandt of West Berlin told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that its democratic youth is Germany’s insurance against the possibility of a resurgence of Nazism.

The mayor said the recent anti-Semitic outbreaks were not the result of an organized plot but the work of two types of people–“people still blinded by Nazism, or just plain hooligans, mischief-makers and crackpots.” He insisted that there was no “political significance whatever” in the outbreaks.

“The fact that the same things happened elsewhere,” he said, discussing the epidemic of swastikas, “does not excuse us. What happened here must be regarded more seriously because one thinks immediately of the Hitler period.” In West Berlin, Mayor Brandt said, the authorities were able to take effective action because “we had the support of the people, of the entire population and, particularly, I am proud to point out, of the youth.” He added, however, that prompt punishment of the culprits was not enough.

“What we can expect, and demand,” said Mayor Brandt, “is that we must all be aware that Nazism and its attendant anti-Semitism must not arise again. We must be aware and we must take action. We must improve our schools, our police, our courts. What we faced does not indicate, even indirectly, a rebirth of Nazism. But it is a warning we must take to heart, and it is a call to preventive action.”

Asked whether he favored introduction of new legislation to prevent a resurgence of anti-Semitism, Mayor Brandt said: “I do not oppose such legislation. But I think that, perhaps, this is not the most useful way to handle the problem. In fact, such legislation might well place the wrong emphasis on a single element in our population. We do not need to single out anyone for special protection from illegal acts. The laws are on the books now. They can be enforced. We showed that here in Berlin. What we need is more awareness and constant insistence on action in the direction of true democracy for all peoples.”

In stressing his faith in democratic German youth, Mayor Brandt recalled the silent parade to protest anti-Semitism held in West Berlin by 40,000 youths. “There were students. Boy Scouts, church youth, labor youth in that parade,” he declared. “There is the real German youth. They will never allow anti-Semitism to gain headway here again, and they will never allow a resurgence of anti-Semitism.”

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