NEW YORK (Nov. 25)
Responding promptly to American Jewish expressions of alarm over neo-Nazi rampages in Germany, Chancellor Helmut Kohl has condemned the violence that has been taking place with considerable frequency in his country recently and offered assurances it will not be tolerated.
In a letter to officials of the American Jewish Committee, Kohl denounced “the shameful conduct of small neo-Nazi groups and radical right-wing groups of hooligans as well as the attacks on asylum-seeker hostels in Germany.”
His letter, dated Nov. 19, was addressed to Alfred Moses, president, and David Harris, executive vice president, of the AJCommittee, who wrote him on Nov. 11 to emphasize their special concern over the rising incidence of attacks by neo-Nazi and other extreme right-wing gangs on guest laborers and asylum-seekers in Germany.
Kohl wrote that “Germany is well disposed to foreigners, and will remain so.”
He said that whoever flees his homeland to escape religious or racist persecution will find shelter in Germany.
Harris said the AJCommittee welcomed Kohl’s “thoughtful answer” and was gratified that the Bonn government shares its apprehension over recent events.
The mixture of xenophobia and neo-Nazi racism has alarmed the German Jewish community, as well as many non-Jewish Germans.
Kohl pointed out the opposition of the vast majority of Germans against the attacks.
“Political extremists — whether right-wing or left-wing — have in the past brought nothing but suffering to our people.” Because of the suffering in the Nazi era, the “mothers and fathers of our constitution regarded the right of asylum as sacrosanct,” Kohl’s letter pointed out.
“During the last few weeks and months I have time and again publicly expressed my disgust regarding the shameful conduct of small neo-Nazi groups and radical right-wing groups of hooligans, as well as the attacks on asylum-seeker hostels in Germany,” Kohl wrote.
“I have repeatedly called upon the state — and will continue to do so — to counter such tendencies with the greatest determination and combat them with all available legal instruments, including the resolute application of the appropriate penal provisions,” the chancellor wrote.
The national chairpersons of the various political parties in Germany as well as of the Bundestag parliamentary group, comprising the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union and Free Democratic Party, met Nov. 21 with Kohl to discuss the issue of the asylum-seekers.
The participants to the meeting then again called for the creation of pan-European regulations to govern asylum.
Germany expects 230,000 asylum applicants by year’s end.