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Bonn Envoy and Jewish Leader in ‘dialogue’ on German-jewish Relations

February 18, 1966
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A rabbi whom Hitler had expelled from Berlin called here tonight for re-education of the German people of the present generation, while the German Ambassador to Washington suggested the creation of an agency to publicize Jewish-German “brotherhood.”

The two statements were made at a Brandeis University forum addressed respectively by Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, and Karl H. Knappstein, Bonn’s envoy to the United States. The appearance of the two men on the same platform was said to be the first German-Jewish dialogue in this country since the end of World War II.

Dr. Prinz, whom the Nazis expelled in 1937 from Berlin, where he headed a large congregation, warned that there are still in West Germany today signs indicating a rise in jingoism and anti-Semitism. “There are disturbing signs of a new nationalism arising in Germany today,” he said. “A totalitarian and anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi paper is currently the largest weekly in Germany.” If German re-education can be achieved, he said, “there is hope that the years of shame and horror will be followed by decades of peace and hope.”

Ambassador Knappstein charged that the American press had blown out of proportion certain anti-Semitic actions in Germany, failing to report fully demonstrations protesting such activities. He said that “some mistakes were made in denazification” because, initially, “mass productions involving millions of people included great numbers of rather harmless citizens who had been merely formal members of some Nazi organization which they had joined under pressure. ” Defendants in current war crimes trials, he declared, still get light sentences “because of inadequate evidence and due to witnesses who were sometimes confused in their memory.”

Both speakers agreed that Germany’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel has been a healthy development. Dr. Knappstein said Germany’s support of Israel is like a “Marshall Flan” which strengthens Israel’s defense “even though it put us into difficulties with the Arabs.”

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