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Kohl Says That Anti-semitism Could Reoccur in Germany

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Chancellor Helmut Kohl has acknowledged the danger that anti-Semitism could reoccur in Germany, but his ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) appears unanimously opposed to a debate on the subject being urged by coalition as well as opposition members of parliament.

Kohl told the Bundestag Thursday that everybody is aware of the danger of recurrent anti-Semitism–though he warned against generalization. His concern, he said, was over isolated incidents, not an anti-Semitic wave. The Chancellor also reaffirmed that reconciliation and solidarity with Jewish fellow citizens and close relations with Israel will remain principles of West Germany’s policy.

But the isolated incidents which trouble Kohl have led to calls for an urgent debate. Hildegard Hamm-Bruecher of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a coalition partner, was the first to raise the subject. She said that while there is no upsurge of anti-Semitism, there are alarming tendencies in that direction. She referred to recent remarks by respectable political figures which outraged Jews and non-Jews. Hitherto, only neo-Nazis are on record for making such remarks, she noted.

STATEMENTS THAT SPARKED CONCERN

The FDP member was referring to the statement last month by Hermann Fellner, a ranking member of the (Bavarian) Christian Social Union (CSU) Bundestag faction, that Jews who seek reparations from German firms that used them as slave laborers during World War II create the impression that “Jews are quick to show up when money jingles in German cashboxes.”

That remark was followed by the disclosure that Mayor Wilederich von Mierbach of Korschenbroich in North Rhine-Westphalia, a CDU member, told his town council’s budget committee last December that “a few rich Jews should be slain” in order to balance the budget.

Those remarks had a strong impact on many Bundestag members. Bundestag Vice President Annemarie Ranger of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) observed Thursday that Germany’s relations with Jews and with Israel are a barometer of democracy in this country. A representative of the opposition Green Party warned that anti-Semitism is still alive in Germany and was to some extent the consequence of trying to suppress and cover up the Nazi era.

Werner Nahmann, chairman of West Germany’s Jewish community, said Wednesday that he will seek meetings with ranking representatives of all major parties to discuss the issue.

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