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West German President Apologizes to World Jewry for Recent Spate of Anti-semitic Manifestations

President von Weizsaecker, in an emotional appeal to world Jewry, asserted Sunday that recent manifestations of anti-Semitism in West Germany should not be viewed as typical for the Federal Republic.

“I beg your pardon for the series of latest anti-Semitic utterances in this country,” declared von Weizsaecker in remarks at the opening ceremony of the “Week of Brotherhood,” an event organized by the Association for Christian-Jewish Cooperation.

The President’s remarks were viewed in an effort to address rising concern in the Jewish community following a recent series of remarks and events that cast a shadow on German-Jewish relations here and which had been the subject of a debate in the Bundestag last week.

Last month, Hermann Fellner, a ranking member of the (Bavarian) Christian Social Union (CSU) Bundestag faction, said 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 Wilderich von Mierbach of Korschenbroich in North Rhine, Westphalia, a Christian Democratic Union member, told his Town Council’s budget committee last December that “a few rich Jews should be slain” in order to balance the budget.

There was also the failed attempt last year to stage a play deemed as anti-Semitic in Frankfurt’s town theater, and Nazi-style remarks against former Israeli Premier Menachem Begin. Gunter Durr, the Social Democratic faction leader, denounced Begin in the Frankfurt City Council recently as “a murderer, fascist and terrorist.” Durr later apologized.

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