German Jews have called for demonstrations against Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government, and a leading writer has urged Jews to arm themselves to protect them from neo-Nazi attack.
The leader of the German Jewish community called for protests to press the German government to neutralize right-wing extremists, in the wake of an arson attack Monday night that killed three ethnic Turks in Molln, near Hamburg.
But Ignatz Bubis termed “nonsense” a proposal to carry arms that was advanced by German Jewish novelist Ralph Giordano.
The writer charged, in a widely published open letter to Kohl, that the government had exhibited “inexcusable” weakness in fighting a wave of right- wing extremist violence.
“We have lost our belief and hope that you and your government can offer effective protection against right-wing extremism and its anti-Semitic criminals,” he wrote.
Giordano, 69, who survived World War II in hiding in Hamburg, has produced several documentaries for German television on his experiences.
Aides to Kohl, citing the chancellor’s statement that the murder of the ethnic Turks was a “shame for our state,” reacted angrily to Giordano’s charges.
They termed his accusations of government indifference to mounting neo-Nazi violence “an insulting slander” and warned against the danger of individuals taking the law into their own hands.
German radio and television gave wide coverage to Giordano’s letter. One station coupled it with interviews Monday night in which Jews said they would seize any opportunity to leave the country.
The Bundestag on Tuesday paid tribute to the three victims, who were legal residents of Germany. In fact, one of the three was born in Germany. The oldest, a 51-year-old woman, had lived in Germany for many years. The children were her 10-year-old granddaughter, born here, and a 14-year-old girl.
The German parliament issued a statement expressing “shame and rage over this grisly peak in a wave of violence.”
Last week, Bubis, the Jewish leader, said he would not tell young Jews to remain in Germany.
“Everyone has to make their own decisions,” he said.
“But as long as we are here, it is our duty to point to the dangers of right- wing extremism and to urge the country to do something about it.”
He said he opposed the call to carry arms because the government had both the duty and the capability to protect its Jewish residents.
In New York, the World Jewish Congress voiced support for the call by Bubis to demonstrate against “unspeakable brutality committed by Nazis in Germany today.”
WJC President Edgar Bronfman also called on Jewish communities worldwide to meet with German ambassadors to demand action by authorities in that country “against this unacceptable wave of violence and barbarism.”