BERLIN (Mar. 29)
In the first firebombing of a German synagogue since World War II, two Molotov cocktails were hurled at the synagogue in the northern port town of Lubeck last Friday.
The firebombs destroyed a meeting room on the first floor of the synagogue and endangered the lives of several Jewish residents who were sleeping on the second floor.
Local police focused their investigation on local members of neo-Nazi organizations.
The synagogue was destroyed once before, on Nov. 9, 1938 — a night known as Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass — when the Nazis conducted a nationwide pogrom against the country’s Jews.
On Saturday, demonstrators reportedly numbering more than 4,000 marched through the streets of Lubeck to protest the firebombing. City authorities called for the observation of five minutes of silence Saturday to reflect on the implications of the attack.
That same day, however, Franz Schonhuber, leader of the extreme right-wing Republican party, said that the fault for the firebombing lay with the leader of the German Jewish community, Ignatz Bubis.
Schonhuber, a former member of the SS, described Bubis, a Holocaust survivor, as one of the country’s “worst agitators,” adding that the Jewish leader was “responsible for anti-Semitism in Germany.”
A spokesman for the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior said Tuesday that the state prosecutor was considering the possibility of court action against Schonhuber for insulting Bubis. But, the spokesman added, if Bubis does not bring charges against Schonhuber, “our hands are tied.”
WON’T BRING CHARGES
Bubis later issued a statement saying he will not bring charges , saying that doing so would only provide Schonhuber with a platform for launching more rhetoric.
The president of the German Parliament, Christian Democrat Rita Sussmuth, said in a statement issued Tuesday that Schonhuber, “who makes the Jewish victims into perpetrators, deserves to be outlawed by the whole society.”
In Lubeck, some local commentators said the attack on the synagogue was timed to coincide with the start of Passover celebrations. But the state district attorney said an anti-Israel motive could not be ruled out, German radio reported.
The state government of Schleswig-Holstein, where Lubeck is located, offered a $29,000 reward to anyone providing information on the attack that will lead to the arrests of those responsible. The Federal Attorney’s Office in Karlsruhe has taken over the investigation.
Six families lived in the synagogue, including the synagogue’s cantor and one of two Lubeck Jews who survived the Holocaust and returned to live in the town.
No one was hurt, as the residents managed to evacuate the synagogue in time. The attack occurred at 2:20 a.m. local time on Friday. The police said one explosive device did not detonate.