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East German Jews Demand Government Stop Ignoring Anti-semitic Episodes

November 16, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The official East German news agency said Tuesday that the prosecution in Rostock, a city near the Baltic Sea, will soon make public information about recent serious anti-Semitic incidents.

The announcement was in response to demands by East Germany’s minuscule Jewish community that the Communist regime end its 40-year practice of treating manifestations of anti-Semitism in the German Democratic Republic “like a state secret.”

Until recently, the only accounts of anti-Semitism published in East Germany’s controlled media occurred in West Germany. Officially, anti-Semitism did not exist in the East.

But the Jewish community has called on the regime to publicly acknowledge that the persecution of Jews in East Germany occurred under the Stalinist system emulated by Communist Party bosses Walter Ulbricht and the recently deposed Erich Honecker, who sent Jews to jail or branded them traitors.

East German Jews, officially numbering only about 400, no more than 800, most of them in East Berlin, have taken courage from the surge for popular reforms in recent days, which was highlighted by the opening and demolition of the Berlin Wall.

They are pressing the GDR to revise textbooks on the Nazi era and World War II, which in their present form fail to inform students of the organized persecution of Jews in Germany’s past.

Jews have even entered the once forbidden realm of foreign policy debate, demanding that the government initiate a dialogue with Israel.

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