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New Religious Affairs Secretary Has East German Jews Concerned

East Germany’s small Jewish community is uneasy about the country’s new secretary of state for religious affairs, Kurt Loeffler.

The community was saddened by the resignation of Loeffler’s predecessor, Klaus Gysi, with whom it always had good relations. But Loeffler is a reputed hard-liner within East Germany’s Communist regime.

Gysi, 76, stepped down because of illness. He was known for his sympathy to local Jewish concerns and the friendship he displayed at his many meetings with visiting Jewish leaders from abroad.

He repeatedly alluded to the need for a dialogue between Israel and East Germany, but could never speak in concrete terms about so delicate an issue.

Gysi always left the impression that he was trying to do as much as possible to advance Jewish communal causes within the limitations imposed by the rigidly doctrinaire German Democratic Republic.

Loeffler, 56, is considered a different type of bureaucrat, inclined to toughen the government’s position toward religious communities and leave them less autonomy in running their affairs.

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