(JTA) — Germany’s foreign minister said Social Democrats in his country were victimized by the Nazis alongside their Jewish victims.
Sigmar Gabriel, in a recent op-ed in the German-language Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper headlined “Together against nationalism,” wrote that “Social Democrats, like Jews, were the first victims of the Holocaust. One was the victim of political persecution, the other of racial delusion.” The article was changed later to “the National Socialists” from the Holocaust.
Gabriel wrote that German Social Democrats have always been the most pro-Israel component of the country’s politics.
On the day the article appeared, April 25, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a scheduled meeting with Gabriel after the German official refused to cancel a meeting with the left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence.
A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement reported by Ynet that Gabriel is a close friend of Israel and has always accepted Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust and for Israel’s security.
“There can be no doubt about this, and the foreign minister made this statement again during his visit to Yad Vashem” on Monday, read the statement, noting Israel’s official Holocaust memorial and museum.
Gabriel held a low-key meeting with representatives of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, which took place without the media present. He did not comment on the meeting afterward.