Racial Violence in Germany

by Jared Feldman

For more than a month we have watched the malicious and violent attacks on non-German residents in Rostock and other German cities mainly in the states of the former East Germany. An atmosphere of economic and social difficulties, such as those in Germany, has the potential for nurturing xenophobic hatred and racism. We cannot ignore the implications that those perpetrating the senseless attacks have drawn on Nazi symbols and beliefs, including anti-Semitism. Memory of the tragic past strengthens our belief that this kind of violence cannot be tolerated in any democratic society. It must be brought to an end with the rights of the victims protected by the German authorities.

We recognize that Germany has been much more open than other European countries in welcoming asylum-seekers. Some 1.5 million refugees from Eastern Europe and Asia have been welcomed since the collapse of Communism. We are concerned, however, that efforts now underway to severely restrict the inflow of foreigners and to amend the constitutional provisions granting asylum may be misinterpreted as acquiescence to those extremists perpetrating the violent attacks.

 

Two years ago, following the reunification of Germany, the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council warned that one of the biggest challenges facing the government of the new Germany would be to imbue among the people of the eastern states an appreciation for the democratic and pluralistic values and traditions practiced and incorporated into law in the western half during the past 45 years.

The NJCRAC called upon the new German government to give assurances of full respect of the rights of all minorities and to give a priority to monitoring and assessing the activities of extremist groups that seek to incite racial, religious, or ethnic hatred or violence — especially neo-Nazi and other anti-Semitic groups.

 

Stronger steps need to be taken by Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the Bundestag as well as state and local government leadership to protect the rights of minorities and to counter extremist movements in Germany. We strongly recommend that German authorities act now with law enforcement officials and legal prosecutors to put an end to the attacks on foreigners and prosecute those responsible. We further call on federal and state officials to continue to work with civic education organizations and the school systems in the eastern states to develop prejudice reduction programs, including the study of the Holocaust, in the work place, the high schools and universities.

 

On the eve of the forthcoming October 3rd anniversary of German reunification, such concrete actions would demonstrate to the world that a unified Germany will not tolerate in any way racial and ethnic hatred on its soil.

 

sharonang / Pixabay


About the Author


Jared Feldman