1700 years of Jewish life in Germany


Rafael Seligmann in conversation with Gabi Wuttke

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Rafael Seligmann: “Jews are not just some exotic horror, but people in our time.” (picture alliance / dpa | Soeren Stache)

Jews have lived in Germany for 1,700 years. Nevertheless, they are not treated as a natural part of society, says the journalist Rafael Seligmann: “Jews are either seen as victims or as Israelis”.

“If I, as Federal President, can wish for something for this festive year, then it is not just a clear declaration that Jews in Germany are part of us, part of our common we, but that we will also take a firm stand against those who do just that still or question again. ”

With these words, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the anniversary year “1700 years of Jewish life in Germany” in the Cologne synagogue.

“Either Victim or Israeli”

“Just the emphasis on the we is perhaps a sign that this cannot be taken for granted”, interjects the journalist Rafael Seligmann. Jews are seen “either as victims or as Israelis”, says Seligmann and illustrates this with an encounter with the Federal President:

“A few years ago, Mr Steinmeier spoke to me at a party and said: ‘I’m going to your Foreign Minister now.’ And then I said: ‘Sorry, Mr Steinmeier, I thought you were my Foreign Minister’. ”

Subscribe to our culture newsletter Weekender.  The main cultural debates and recommendations of the week.  From now on every Friday by email.  (@ Deutschlandradio)In order to recognize that Jews are a normal part of German society, it is important “not only to concentrate on the very beautiful past and the very terrible past of the Holocaust or to try to constantly resolve the Middle East conflict, but to take note take that Jews are part of this German society, and not only Heinrich Heine, but also the Jewish tailor or merchant or teacher or pensioner from next door. “

Jews are normal people, not “exotics of horror”

For Seligmann, it’s about understanding each other emotionally, as he says. And the best way to do that is through conversation and literature. That’s one of the reasons why he writes books, says Seligmann, to show that Jews have the same feelings as everyone else.

“If that succeeds, if you understand: there are other people, not some exotic horror, but people in our day and age, then you have won.”


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