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Ignatz Bubis, Frankfurt Realtor, Elected Chairman of German Jews

September 23, 1992
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A prominent Frankfurt real estate dealer has been elected national chairman of the Jewish community in Germany for a two-year term.

Ignatz Bubis, 65, said he would seek meetings soon with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and other top officials to discuss the wave of violence against foreigners seeking asylum in Germany.

The Breslau-born chairman on Sunday beat out Robert Guttmann, a 53-year-old businessman from Munich, by a 13-7 vote in the Zentralrat, the central council of the national Jewish community.

His first statement was a criticism of proposals to amend the German constitution and curb the right of asylum for refugees. He suggested instead enhanced security for the refugees and punishment for the perpetrators.

Bubis was imprisoned in a Polish concentration camp during World War II and was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.

After the war, he prospered during the economic boom called the “German Miracle.”

In 1985, he led protests against the staging in Frankfurt of a play labeled by him and other community members as anti-Semitic. Written by the late director and playwright Rainer Werner Fassbinder, it dealt with a Jewish, Frankfurt- based real estate dealer who misused the guilty conscience of the Germans to amass a fortune in the chaotic years of rebuilding the bombed-out country.

Bubis himself said Fassbinder had him in mind when writing it. The production was withdrawn after Bubis and his supporters occupied the stage.

At the time, he said he would leave Germany if the play were performed in the town where he had reached prominence.

Bubis has been a member since 1969 of the Free Democratic Party, the junior coalition partner in Bonn, whose best-known leader is former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

He was named chairman of the board of the state of Hesse’s largest radio and television station, a public network, as a representative of the Frankfurt community.

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