BONN (Oct. 31)
A relatively small but potentially significant immigration of Soviet Jews to Germany has become a political issue here.
The government, having extended a cautious welcome, has been chided by the opposition Social Democratic and Green parties to adopt a more generous policy toward Jewish emigres.
Responding in the Bundestag on Sunday, the deputy interior minister, Horst Waffenschmidt, said the absorption would revitalize the Jewish element in German culture.
But he warned Germany cannot afford to integrate large numbers of immigrants and cautioned that the absorption of Soviet Jews should proceed carefully and not be allowed to occur “overwhelmingly” or in a “disorganized manner.”
Waffenschmidt said that the federal states will meet with representatives of the Jewish community in coming weeks to work out plans to absorb Soviet Jews.
He avoided the term “quotas,” once widely used by Interior Ministry officials.
According to official statistics, about 10,000 Soviet Jews have applied to Germany for admission. Many claim to be “ethnic Germans” or to have relatives in Germany.
The Jewish community has been lobbying in favor of automatic citizenship for them and the financial assistance reserved for ethnic Germans.
The community hopes that many of the Jewish newcomers will settle in the territory of what was formerly East Germany and establish Jewish centers in towns where no Jew has lived since World War II.