Jewish-German Relations

(c)German Embassy Washington

(c)German Embassy Washington

Fifteen thousand survivors – that is all that was left of the Jewish community in Germany in May 1945. A terrible figure, which, however, does not even come close to expressing the grim atrocities and barbaric brutality of the Holocaust; it does not even come close to capturing the millions of crimes committed by ordinary Germans during the Nazi reign of terror. The 12 years that encompassed this darkest chapter in our shared history have since shaped the centuries-old German-Jewish relations.
Against this backdrop, it is something of a miracle that German-Jewish relations have grown and flourished in the ensuing years: Berlin is today home to one of the most dynamic Jewish communities in the world and has become one of the most desirable places to live for young Israelis. Indeed, Germany as a whole is experiencing a renaissance in Jewish life – with a strong community organization, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, representatives from various Jewish denominations live here and actively participate in public life.
Past and present of German-Jewish relations bring special responsibility – a special responsibility for Jewish life and the State of Israel. This responsibility forms a cornerstone of our foreign policy. It is central to our cultural remembrance and reconciliation. And it remains a focal point of German historical and civic education. Anti-Semitism, however, has not been eradicated either with the fall of the Nazi regime or in recent years. On the contrary, resentment and violence against Jews are on the rise again. That is why we need to remain vigilant and actively fight against all types of anti-Semitism; we need to engage on a people-to-people level, in an exchange between Jews and non-Jews – so as to foster greater understanding of Jewish life.
I therefore welcome the extraordinarily lively and intensive exchanges, not only on the political level but also in the spheres of business, academia, culture, and civil society, which are the backbone of German-Jewish relations today. Part of my work here, too, in the United States is to foster deeper relations to the Jewish community. Our cooperation and joint events with the Holocaust Museum and various Jewish organizations are highlights for my wife and me. The recent celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel was one particularly important and moving event for me.
One central messenger for new Jewish life is the Jewish Voice from Germany. I commend this bridge between Germany and Jews all over the world for getting the message out through this unique publication. The projects and initiatives portrayed not only lead to a better understanding of Jewish life in today’s Germany but will also spark stronger interest around the world in the thriving Jewish community and culture in my home country.

Peter Wittig
The German Ambassador to the United States of America

Photo Credit: German Embassy Washington

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