Status: 02/21/2021 4:47 p.m.
Jewish life in Germany has been documented for exactly 1700 years. That is why Federal President Steinmeier opened the anniversary year. Politicians and representatives of Judaism praised the contribution of Jews to German history.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the anniversary year “1700 years of Jewish life in Germany” with a speech in the synagogue in Cologne. Steinmeier is the patron of the event program, which in the coming months should bring German-Jewish history and the present into public awareness throughout Germany. The events are also expressly intended to counter growing anti-Semitism. Around 1000 events and projects are planned across Germany.
Contributed to the departure of Germany
In his address, Steinmeier praised the contribution of Jews to German history. “Whether in philosophy, in literature, painting and music, in science, medicine, in business, Jews have helped to write and shape our history and let our culture shine,” said the head of state according to the manuscript. Judaism made a decisive contribution to Germany’s dawn into the modern age. As an example he named Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), the pioneer of the “Jewish Enlightenment”.
Humiliation, exclusion, disenfranchisement
At the same time, Steinmeier recalled centuries of marginalization and persecution and demanded an “honest look” at 1700 years of Jewish history. “This is the only way we can learn lessons for the present and for the future. That is and will remain our responsibility.” Jews were almost always seen as strangers and others. “ The history of the Jews in Germany is one of emancipation and prosperity, but it is also one of humiliation, exclusion and disenfranchisement.”
Today Jewish life in this country is “diverse, multifaceted, lively, full of energy”. He was “deeply grateful” that this was possible after the murder of around six million European Jews in the Shoah, “said Steinmeier. This life has flourished again thanks to the returnees, the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and the young Israelis who draw it here: “What immeasurable happiness for our country.”
Many Jews faced prejudice
At the same time, Jewish life is threatened in the face of open anti-Semitism and the attack on the Halle synagogue. In everyday life, many Jews are confronted with prejudices, clichés and ignorance. It is necessary to counter them, warned the Federal President. “ The Federal Republic of Germany is only completely at home when Jews feel completely at home here.”
Schuster: More education
The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, called for more education in the fight against anti-Semitism. A lack of knowledge, especially about a minority, almost always leads to prejudice, said Schuster, according to the speech manuscript at the opening of the festival year. “This phenomenon with all its terrible consequences runs like a red thread through German-Jewish history.”
Even today it can be observed that someone who has never met a Jew and is also not interested in Judaism knows anti-Semitic prejudices, Schuster emphasized. “ The y are passed on from generation to generation – and the less one knows about Jews, the better they hold up.” This must be addressed, especially in schools. Not only must more knowledge be imparted about Judaism, but more information about anti-Semitism must also be provided.
The anniversary year is reminiscent of an event in 321: At that time, the Roman Emperor Constantine issued an edict that allowed Jews to take over city offices in Cologne. The certificate is considered to be the oldest evidence of the existence of Jewish life in Germany.
Because of the corona pandemic, the festival year opened without an audience.
Opening of the festival year “1700 years of Jewish life in Germany”
Christina-Maria Purkert, WDR, February 21, 2021 5:49 pm