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Germany Remains Deeply Anti-Semitic

Germany Remains Deeply Anti-Semitic

How anti-Semitic is Germany today? A Holocaust survivor stuns German TV viewers with her candid answer.


A 93-year-old survivor of Auschwitz stunned the viewers of one of Germany’s most popular political talk shows last Sunday when – asked to compare the Nazi era with the situation today – she asserted that the two periods had more in common than many people may care to admit.

“I think that Germany was always anti-Semitic, that has not changed much,” Esther Bejarano – who was enslaved in the infamous “women’s orchestra” of the Auschwitz death camp – told the ARD Network‘s flagship “Anne Will Show.”

Auschwitz survivor Esther Bejarano speaking on German TV.

Bejarano was one of several guests on an International Holocaust Remembrance Day edition of the show that asked the question, “How anti-Semitic is Germany today?” Other guests who participated in the candid and often emotional discussion included two government ministers, a prominent human rights advocate and a leading scholar of modern Jewish history.

Much of the show was dedicated to a harrowing interview with Bejarano about her incarceration in Auschwitz. She began by relating that her father had been a stalwart German patriot, convinced that the German people would reject Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. But after the Nazis came to power and prevented the family from emigrating to British Mandatory Palestine, Bejarano was imprisoned in a hard labor camp in Germany, before being deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland in April 1943.

Initially assigned to a slave labor detail, Bejarano, an accomplished pianist, was selected to play the accordion in the women’s orchestra that performed outside in all weathers as slave laborers toiled under the gaze of gun-wielding camp guards. The first tune she played for her Nazi tormentors, she recalled, was a popular upbeat ballad of the time entitled, “You’re in luck with the women, Bel Ami!”

Esther Bejarano, 1938

It was Bejarano’s status as a Holocaust survivor who has spent decades sharing her experiences with younger Germans that amplified the shocked response to her claim that Germany remains deeply anti-Semitic. The humbled response to Bejarano from Germany’s Minister of the Arts, Monika Grütters – “Five and a half million people visit our memorial sites every year, but it can never be enough” – suggested that the government too has been taken aback by the scale of the problem, even as it embarks on an effort to address it.

Germany, in the year 2018, is still facing a massive problem with hatred toward Jews.

The recent announcement of a federal commissioner to deal with anti-Semitism – as part of a legislative program to deal with anti-Jewish hostility from both the German far right and from within the Muslim immigrant community – is intended to be a major part of the government’s counterattack. Interviewed by The Algemeiner last week, Josef Schuster, the president of the German Jewish community, stated candidly that “Germany, in the year 2018, is still facing a massive problem with hatred toward Jews.”

Several of the other guests on the “Anne Will Show” sounded an equally dark note about the current situation. Wenzel Michalski – the director of global human rights organization Human Rights Watch’s office in Berlin – emphasized the strong showing in last year’s elections by the stridently anti-immigrant AfD Party in making the point, “I think there is a lot of talk about the culture of remembrance, but little is done about it.”

Michalski also illustrated the issue of anti-Semitism among Muslim immigrants with a deeply personal story involving his son, who was badly bullied by his schoolmates of Turkish and Arab descent. After being showered with anti-Semitic insults including “Jewish murderer,” Michalski’s son was eventually beaten up and then subjected to a mock execution. “With one exception, his teachers did nothing,” Michalski disclosed.

41 percent of German children over the age of 14 had not heard of Auschwitz.

Much of the discussion on the show centered on whether visits to the sites of concentration camps should be made compulsory for immigrants who want to acquire German citizenship. “Of course, not every visit to a concentration camp memorial immediately leads to immunization against anti-Semitism,” said Sawsan Chebli, a leading member of the socialist SPD party, and a former Foreign Ministry spokesman. “But it makes a difference if I open a book and read something or go to a memorial,” Chebli, who is the daughter of Palestinian parents, added.

Lack of knowledge and empathy for the victims of the Holocaust remains a serious challenge in German schools as well. A study conducted last year by the Forsa Institute and the Körber Foundation found that 41 percent of German children over the age of 14 had not even heard of Auschwitz.

Arts Minister Grütters pledged that the German government would reinvigorate its Holocaust education programs. “At a time when anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hate speech on social media is increasing, education about National Socialism is more necessary than ever,” she said.

Reprinted with permission from

February 3, 2018

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Visitor Comments: 13

(7) Marvin, February 11, 2018 7:22 PM

Esther Bejarano is right and wrong

Esther Bejarano is definitely right, the situation here in Germany has gotten worse over the last couple of years. Since 2015 the land has to face mass immigration on an unprecedent large scale and the political parties want to expand mass immigration. This means much more people from Muslim countries will journey to Germany. Many Germans feel overwhelmed by this situation, not because they're haters, but because they fear for their lifes and the lifes of their families. But when you as a German voice that fear in public you risk being labeled a Nazi, which serves no other purpose than to end the discussion before it even has begun. During the last months, laws like the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz have been introduced, which serves the purpose to keep the people in line and suppress deviating views. This is the actual part which is reminiscient of the 3rd Reich, where opposing voices would be silenced.

And since you brought up the AfD: this political party has formed (not only) as a reaction to the uncontrolled mass immigration which has lead to a rise in crime, violence especially against women and no-go-areas and other negative effects. If you open your eyes you can see that the mainstream policies all over the western world are the same, the arguments and methods are the same and the effects on the nations are also the same.

(6) Joshua, February 9, 2018 5:10 PM

Aren't we in the USA just as confused?

I backpacked in Germany as a secular college student in 1990. I went specifically to find out if I should hate Germans. I cam away with German friends my own age, and the feeling that if I were in their shoes I would feel as they do - that they personally had nothing to do with those atrocities. Later in life I became religious. I studied in a bal teshuvah yeshiva in Monsey, NY where I met Jews from all over the world. Particularly striking was a German Jew who was so proud to be German, so ant-American - even in that environment of Torah in the USA among his Jewish brothers. And it occurred to me that we Jews are confused about our identity no matter where we live. It's been that way since the first exile in Bavel. Most of the Jews didn't return to Eretz Yisroel when the 2nd Temple was built just 70 years after the First was destroyed. We got comfortable in Bavel. Any friendly government owns our allegiance. Until the government changes and then we're surprised that we're not Americans and not Germans. We're Jews and we have only God and Each Other to rely on. And so I ask you all - while you look in wonder and disbelief upon Jews currently living in Germany and France and Russia and Poland and pretty much anywhere outside of Eretz Yisroel - realize you may be looking into a mirror. I live in the USA and I have only my weakness to blame. My family feels comfortable and safe here. But it is an illusion.

(5) bernhard, February 8, 2018 5:26 PM

leftist anti-Semitism

The article avoided the leftist anti-Semitism, popular example is most of the Linke party in Germany and int'l Roger Waters and accomplices. Now it's BSD and in Germany in regard to Eretz Israel and critics on their politics: Man darf doch noch sagen dürfen .... And then follows the comparison with Nazi Germany and the accusement of apartheid due to the awkward ideolofy of Siggi (Pop) Gabriel (to date the FM) and other morons.

(4) david frankel, February 8, 2018 4:08 PM

i totally agree i spend 4 months in Germany last year i was very surprised how much they still hate Jews till today

(3) Rafael, February 8, 2018 3:16 PM

.? Merkel is half Jewish with a family history of fighting against Hitler . Germany is excepting Middle Eastern refugees which will eventually " assimilate " into German society and further compromise white Christian ethnic purity . Germany under Merkel apologized to Innocent Jews caught in the Hollacaust .
There is world wide opposition to Israel's ( and US) policies however that is not antisemitic . It is political

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