Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Post-holocaust Generation Elected to Lead Berlin Jewry

June 5, 1997
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Berlin’s Jewish community has elected a new generation of leaders.

As a result of Sunday’s elections, the new community parliament consists mainly of delegates born after World War II.

They will take over the leadership of Germany’s largest Jewish community from the generation of Holocaust survivors who re-established the community after the war.

The newly elected delegates now face the job of ending internal strife in the community, which became so serious it attracted prolonged attention in the German press.

Charges of mismanagement and allegations of corruption involving former parliament members had dominated the campaign.

Two-thirds of the 21 delegates are serving for the first time in the community parliament.

Andreas Nachama, 46, director of a Berlin institute on Hitler’s Gestapo terror, received the largest number of votes.

He is the son of Estrongo Nachama, the chief cantor of the 10,500-member Berlin community.

Andreas Nachama has been an advocate for a national memorial to Jews killed during the Holocaust, a project that has stirred controversy for years.

The parliament must now elect a 5-member board of directors and a new community chairman.

Nachama says that if he is elected chairman, he would focus on integrating Russian emigres into the community, expanding cultural activities and overseeing a professional operation of community affairs.

The current leader, Jerzy Kanal, 75, did not stand for election and will step down this year.

Half of the 55 candidates were from Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union, but only three were elected.

Many of the Russian candidates complained that the community does not represent their interests and treats them as second-class members.

More than half of the community’s members emigrated from the former Soviet Union during the past 25 years.

One of the Russian candidates charged that the election was manipulated, claiming that recent emigres from the former Soviet Union were not properly informed about the election.

An investigation could postpone the first meeting of the parliament, currently scheduled for mid-June.

Recommended from JTA