Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

German Jews’ Fears of Reunification Fueled by Kohl Speech to Parliament

November 29, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Officially, the Jewish community here is silent on the subject of German reunification. But privately, often indirectly, community activists articulate their fears.

Some spoke of leaving the country after Chancellor Helmut Kohl delivered a major policy speech Tuesday, in which he extolled the idea of one Germany.

“We are ready to develop confederative structures between both states in Germany, with the goal of a federation,” Kohl told the Bundestag, West Germany’s parliament.

He said that if East Germany holds free elections, the two countries could soon establish a bilateral commission to coordinate policies.

The issue of reunification has emerged so swiftly and suddenly that German Jews have been taken aback. Only a few weeks ago, the Berlin Wall was intact and political reform had not swept the Communist hard-liners out of office in East Berlin.

Now, reunification is considered unavoidable. A member of the Jewish community in Cologne was reported by friends to be considering migration to the United States, Britain or Israel.

Elsewhere in the Federal Republic, Jews are concerned that there will be an upsurge of German nationalism if the two Germanys are united to become the strongest nation in Europe.

“Until now, German national ambitions have been barely audible for fear and shame, but that posture is bound to disappear when the Germans are united,” one Jewish community member said.

Recommended from JTA