BONN (Oct. 17)
Recent revelations that German companies and individuals supplied Iraq with poison gas or the material and technology to manufacture poison gas have drawn an angry protest from Germany’s organized Jewish community.
A statement issued here said it was “outrageous” that the authorities allowed the export of such material and that it failed to lead to a public outcry.
It was the first serious complaint against the government by the new Zentralrat, the umbrella organization representing the once separate West and East German Jewish communities, which merged six weeks before the two Germanys officially united Oct. 3.
The statement said it was particularly odious that Holocaust survivors who live in Israel could become victims of poison gas supplied by Germany or produced in Iraq with German help. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has threatened several times to attack Israel with chemical weapons.
The Zentralrat said efforts to effect a conciliation between Germans and Jews was losing all credibility in light of the failure of the German justice system to recognize the “appalling equation” between poison gas supplies to Iraq and the poison gas that went to the Auschwitz gas chambers.
A government spokesman said in response that new legislation has been adopted to tighten loopholes against the unauthorized export of gas. But the spokesman would not comment on allegations that the government looked the other way when such illegal shipments were being made.
The protest was prompted by fresh information that both Germanys failed to act on intelligence provided by their respective secret services and other nations about German roles in providing Iraq with the means to produce poison gas.