A report from the Washington Post has highlighted the difficulty that Germany is facing in accommodating new refugees and immigrants, with some seemingly harbouring antisemitic sentiments.
The report follows a refugee who toured around Saschensenhausen, a concentration camp which by the beginning of 1945 held 11,100 Jews. The response made by the refugee was ignorant and less than sympathetic; he stated, “Maybe the Jews want to keep these places going so they can be seen as victims forever.” Such views pose a moral quandary for Germany, whose nation was rebuilt following the Holocaust, on a bedrock of principles that, at least nominally, includes acknowledgement of and responsibility to the Jewish people. The mass migration into Germany from countries such as Syria and Libya has increasingly been perceived as threatening this, with many inhabitants of Muslim-majority countries harbouring antisemitic views.
Germany has several initiatives to provide “sensitivity training” to help these new arrivals acclimatise. Unfortunately, even after visits to sites of historical significance like Saschensenhausen, some antisemitic views remain largely unchanged: “The Arabs think what Hitler did was a good thing, because he freed them from the Jews”, commented the one refugee. Another participant put the matter even more bluntly, “In some ways, we think of the Jews just like the Nazis did”. Whilst by the end of the program, both individuals had been pushed into softening their views somewhat, though the Washington Post says that they did so only barely, they still declared “We are definitely still against the Zionists”.
These comments provide a small illustration of the risk that newcomers could bring with them virulent antisemitism. We have previously noted that increased antisemitism is already being noticed in schools, with some teachers concerned about radical Islam and antisemitism, and some indication that Jewish students are being pushed out public schools. Between Islamist antisemitism and the parallel phenomenon of rising far right Antisemitism, Germany seems to be becoming less hospitable towards Jews once again.