28 January 2011
In Auschwitz, German President Wulff sends the right signal
By Ronald S. Lauder
When 66 years ago Auschwitz was liberated, the world was presented with irrefutable evidence about the biggest crime in the history of mankind. Millions of Jews were murdered there. One should have thought that after all this, never would there be a place again for anti-Semitism in Europe. However, it is still alive and kicking, and there is a growing hostility in Europe against Jews, from graffiti on the walls to arson and violent attacks, and even murder. Jews and Jewish institutions often need permanent police protection. But even this loses its reassuring effect when – like in Hungary last year – a neo-Nazi party is elected to parliament whose goal is to cleanse the country from “parasites”, meaning of course Jews and Roma. The mayor of Malmö in Sweden even blamed Jews themselves for being attacked by radical Muslims because of the Gaza war. There was no outcry of decent Swedish citizens against his statements.
Christian Wulff has realized what these omens mean and what needs to be done. Last year, as governor of Lower Saxony, he held a big commemoration at Bergen-Belsen. As German president, he immediately paid a four-day visit to Israel, accompanied by his 17-year-old daughter. This was an important show of solidarity with the state that was built by survivors of the Holocaust.
Now, he went to Auschwitz, the biggest Jewish cemetery in the world. The popular German head of state has thus set an example, especially for younger people. Such signs of solidarity with the Jews and their state are increasingly rare, however, even though it was the indifference, the silence and the reluctant behavior of Europe of the 1930s which allowed Nazi Germany to plan and carry out the destruction of European Jewry. Many looked the other way and thought it wouldn’t be so bad after all. Some even thought that the Jews only had to blame themselves.
Seven decades later, the right of the only Jewish state in the world to exist is again being openly questioned, even among many European intellectuals. Again, people look the other way and say nothing when energetic action against the enemies of the Jews and active support for Israel are needed. Sadly, the Jewish state has become the scapegoat of international politics.
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