Sociologist Says Israeli Crisis Led to New German Attitude on Jews

The older generation in West Germany still considers Jews as a race or religion but the youth think of them and vigorously support them as the people who founded and maintained the State of Israel, a Rutgers University sociologist reported today.

Dr. Werner Cahnman reported this evaluation as the most “striking” finding of a recent tour of West Germany at the invitation of the Government. He spoke to young people, educators and political officials in a half dozen major West German cities and throughout his visit, he said, he saw demonstrations and other signs of support for Israel during the recent Middle East crisis and war.

“The Israeli situation provided a major breakthrough in German-Jewish relations,” he said. “It gave German youths an opportunity to express themselves.” He added that “this feeling on the part of German youth toward Israel is not an unmixed blessing. There is the danger that the more complex problem of the Jews and Judaism throughout history might be circumvented by the enthusiasm over the much simpler Israeli situation.”

He said that while he did not believe that the West German youth of today should be “burdened with guilt” for the Nazi persecution of Jews, he also felt “they cannot escape responsibility for history.” He summed up the feeling of the youth with the comment of a young West German to him that “If I belong to the people of Goethe and Schiller, I belong to the people of Hitler.”

He said he was planning to set up an organization to bring American Jewish youth to West Germany to engage in “constructive dialogue” with West German young people. He said the idea had the full support of West German authorities.

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