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Despite a Lack of German Jews, Anti-semitism Still Flourishes

January 5, 1990
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The end of 40 years of Communist domination in East Germany seems to have unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic incidents out of proportion to the size of the organized Jewish community, which numbers no more than 400 in a population of 16.6 million.

Anti-Jewish slogans and swastikas have been daubed on walls in several towns with few or no Jews, the official news agency ADN reported.

In Goerlitz, walls were painted with “Juden Raus” (Jews Out) and “Foreigners Raus.” In addition, a memorial to Nazi persecutees was desecrated.

In Pirna, near Dresden, some shop windows were daubed with the slogan “We Are Here — Rep,” a reference to West Germany’s neo-Nazi Republican Party.

In Erfurt, police on Monday arrested several Skinheads, extreme right-wing youths with shaven heads who were threatening passers-by with clubs and other weapons.

Some observers question how anti-Semitism can survive in a country with so few Jews.

Sometimes the graffiti is aimed at political figures who are of Jewish origin, though not affiliated with the Jewish community.

A slogan in Dresden recently denounced the “Jewish Communist” Gregor Gysi, the new boss of the East German Communist Party, known as SED.


Ehrhart Neubert, a leader of the opposition faction called Demokratischer Aufbruch, claimed that neo-Nazi violence was caused largely by the former Communist dictatorship, which had refused to admit anti-Semitism existed in the German Democratic Republic.

Joachim Guck of New Forum, a leading opposition party, maintained that exaggerated reporting of neo-Nazi activity helps the SED, which pictures itself as the only party capable of saving the country from right-wing extremists.

Konrad Weiss of the opposition Democracy Now, who has done research on right-wing extremists in East Germany, concluded that most of them are youths who came from families of Communist functionaries and former employees of Stasi, the now defunct internal security service.

The Munich-based Republicans, who have had unexpected electoral successes in the past year, are clearly the most dangerous because of their newly won prestige.

Their leader, former Waffen SS officer Franz Schoenhuber, recently boasted that his party has established branches in most major towns in East Germany.

The East German authorities said last week that they knew of no such branches, though the party may have the support of some citizens.

Meanwhile, 71 neo-Nazis planning to cross into East Germany were arrested New Year’s Eve and detained briefly in the West German border town of Hilders.

They were accused of violating the ban on their traditional New Year’s party, which always ends in clashes with the police and anti-Nazi protesters.

In the nearby West German city of Fulda, the local authorities identified them as the “Wiking Jugend” (Viking Youth), a neo-Nazi youth group.

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