Menu JTA Search

German Jewish Leader Protests Government Draft of Unity Treaty

The leader of West Germany’s Jewish community has sharply protested the government’s failure to include specific reference to the Nazi era in a draft of the treaty that will formally unite the two Germanys on Oct. 3.

The government draft, released last week by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble, says that the unified German state will be conscious of the continuity of German history and the resulting special responsibility for human rights and peace. But it does not specifically mention the Nazi era.

Heinz Galinski, the chairman of the community, said at a news conference Tuesday that Chancellor Helmut Kohl had assured him last month that words in the treaty would emphasize Germany’s moral debt to Nazi victims.

Galinski met with Kohl earlier this month to present the proposal for the preamble.

Since the draft was released last week, the government has refused to follow up on inquiries from the Jewish community, Galinski charged. He called it “a terrible situation, an absolute disregard of not just the Jewish community but everyone victimized by Nazism.”

Galinski released the text of a letter he has sent to Kohl, which says the government’s behavior has aroused deep concern among Jews here.

In the letter, Galinski, who is a survivor of Auschwitz, said the community could not understand why a unified Germany apparently refused to adopt the text it had proposed. This is not a good omen for a unified Germany, he said.

Kohl has said many times that he would not answer letters made available to the news media before they reached his desk.

He made an exception to his rule in March, when Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, sent him an open letter expressing anxiety over the impending reunification of German states.

Meanwhile, members of the Bundestag, West Germany’s parliament, began debate Monday on the test of the proposed treaty. The Jewish community has urged all factions in the parliament to consider its request to include a strong anti-Nazi statement in the preamble.

NEXT STORY