German leaders marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a call for civil courage and vigilance.
It is shameful that, 63 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, German Jewish institutions are not safe, said German Parliament President Norbert Lammert at the Bundestag’s annual Holocaust commemoration Friday.
Jewish schools, synagogues and museums have boosted security in recent days, after reported Islamist threats. Though the Interior Ministry would not discuss the threats with JTA, Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, confirmed the report and said there was no need to panic, as security at Jewish institutions was high.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and German President Horst Köhler also took part in Friday’s official ceremonies.
Merkel, addressing an experts’ meeting on anti-Semitism convened by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said she was still shocked by the fact that crude anti-Semitic notions permeated all levels of society under the Nazis. She stressed the importance of today’s Germans overcoming their fears of discussing the past.
At the Bundestag, Lammert, of the Christian Democratic Union, said Germany recognizes its special responsibility to prevent genocides and hate crimes. He reminded listeners that the Nazis came to power through a democratic election, and said that constant vigilance is necessary.