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German Leaders Condemn Desecration of Cologne Synagogue

December 28, 1959
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West German officials promised today everything possible would be done to halt such acts of anti-Semitism as the desecration on Christmas Eve of the newly-rebuilt Cologne Synagogue.

As police questioned two members of the neo-Nazi German Reich party, arrested in the investigation of the vandalism, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, President Heinrich Luebke and other leading West German officials sent official expressions of regret over the incident to the tiny Cologne Jewish community.

The suspects were identified as Paul Schoenen, 25, a commercial employee, and Arnold Strunk, a baker’s helper, also 25. Otto Neinberg, chairman of the party, immediately announced expulsion of the suspects because their alleged actions had violated the party’s principles. He also announced dissolution of the North Rhine-Westphalia branch of the party because of anti-Semitic undercurrents.

The low wall in front of the synagogue was found smeared in red paint with the words: “Germans demand ‘Out With the Jews.'” One of the doorways was covered with swastikas in red paint. The anti-Nazi memorial, about a mile from the synagogue, was also disfigured with paint.

Chancellor Adenauer, who took part in the dedication of the synagogue three months ago delivering an address from the pulpit, said in his telegram that neighborly love was dominant among the German people and that “strong action” would be taken against disturbers of the peace. “All decent Germans,” stated Dr. Adenauer, “join me in condemning this atrocious deed.”

Ernst Schwering, Mayor of Cologne, made a personal visit yesterday to Rabbi Avi Asaria to assure him of Cologne’s profound regret and of the municipality’s determination to make life livable for the 1,200 Jews left in Cologne from the pre-Hitler Jewish population of 20,000. Max Adenauer, city manager, and son of Chancellor Adenauer, said the vandalism should not be considered as representing the attitude of Cologne’s 600,000 residents.

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