Some 100,000 Jews from the republics of the former Soviet Union have applied for German asylum in the past two years and between 7,000 and 10,000 have already arrived here, according to an Interior Ministry official.
The vice interior minister, Eduard Lintner, made the comment during a debate last Friday in the Bundestag which was initiated by Bundnis 90, a left-wing group of former East German dissidents.
Leaders of that group, as well as members of the successor group to the East German Communist Party, demanded free entry for any Jew who wishes to immigrate to Germany.
Lintner reported that between 7,000 and 10,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union have already arrived in Germany within the past two years and 23,000 have received positive responses to their visa applications.
If these numbers are correct, the Jewish community in Germany will increase substantially in a year or so.
According to recent statistics, nearly 40,000 Jews live in Germany.
Members of Parliament from all major parties – the Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party – have voiced support for the government’s generosity in handling applications from Soviet Jews.
But they mentioned that their welcome in Israel as full citizens should also be taken into account.
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, on a visit to Berlin, said Jerusalem is trying to get German assistance to create jobs in Israel, thereby making the country more attractive to Jews from the former USSR.
But Rabin insisted he believes it is anyone’s right to choose independently where to settle down.