Anti-Semitic incidents reported at two German high schools


(JTA) — Reports of threatening anti-Semitic incidents involving high school pupils in two former East German towns are being investigated.

The Jewish Museum Berlin canceled the visit of its touring exhibit about Jewish life in Germany by schools in the towns of Werder and Havel last week, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, after some students barraged museum staff with anti-Semitic comments such as  "no more Jew-blabbering" and "they used to gas you," according to a report in the Markische Oder Zeitung online.

Martina Munch, minister for education, youth and sport in the state of Brandenburg, is investigating the cases, according to news reports.

At the Carl-von-Ossietzky-Schule in Werder, museum staff called the police when teachers did not initially step in, according to reports.

The Potsdamer Neueste online news reported that four 15-year-old students came together allegedly to verbally abuse the museum staff. The four were identified with help from classmates.

Principal Ines Amelung has apologized for the incident and said she plans to speak with museum representatives after the Jewish High Holidays. The school participates in the federal Schools without Racism project.

Later in the day, museum staffers who were to mount the traveling exhibit at the Johannes-R.-Becher-Oberschule in Erkner left after they reportedly were verbally abused by two eighth-graders. The staffers also were to give workshops.

The two incidents mark the first time that staff has ever walked out of such programs, which have been offered in 250 schools since 2007, project spokesperson Dagmar Wunderlich told the Markische Oder newspaper. 

Evelyn Seidel, deputy director of the school in Erkner, told Markische Oder that one of the students tried to apologize afterward "but it was not accepted." Some students even pleaded with the museum staff to stay, she said.

Munch reportedly has promised to take the incidents "very seriously."

"Anti-Semitic insults and threats, or derogatory remarks made to representatives of Jewish institutions at our schools, are completely unacceptable," she said.

Meanwhile, the Potsdamer Neueste website reported that pupils at Werder were upset about the incident and hoped their classmates would be punished appropriately.

"That’s all everyone is talking about," a 16-year-old class leader said: "They were way out of bounds."

A mobile pro-democracy project visited the school the day after the incidents.

Recommended from JTA