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May 12, 1961 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-05-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Purely Commenta

COLOGNE, Germany. — It's a much shorter dis-
tance from the Beth Ha-Am in Jerusalem to the
Synagogue Roonstrasse in Cologne than the five-hour
jet flight from the Holy City to the age-old Jewish
community in post-Hitler Germany. Today, the two
are linked by a cord drenched in tears and sufferings
and blood.
In Jerusalem we had just heard the Lamentations
over what had happened to six million of our kinsmen.
All ears directed at the court room in the City of
Peace affect hearts that shudder, eyes that melt into
tears, human emotions that bring forth floods of tears.
Jeremiah's "mine eye runneth water . " becomes
tragic reality in the Beth Ha-Am.

-Transferred to Cologne, the witness at the trial
gets right into • the heart of the reality of the
tragedy that "will not be forgotten in a thousand
years," right into— the source of the crime of
the ages.

*

*

*

An evaluation of the German-Jewish situation
must begin in Cologne. It was in this community that
the West German government helped establiSh . a
very beautiful synagogue and Jewish community school
and center, to serve as a symbol of the friendship the
Adenauer administration seeks with Jewry — not
merely with the Jews of Germany but with world
Jewry. It is here that Jewish historical activities pre-
ceded even those of the hecht-deutsche—of the most
traditional Germanism.
It was in the year 321 — 1640 years ago — that
Constantin the Great, the Roman ruler of that time,
sent a message to the Jews of Cologne (Koln) grant-
ing them communal rights in this city, which was
then a Roman prison center'. A 2,000-year-old Mikvah
has been unearthed here, proving the age of the Jew-
ish community. There are many other proofs of the
ancient status of Cologne Jewry.
The community's story is told in a voluminous
account written by Cologne's Rabbi, Dr. Zwi Azaria
(Gotthelf). It is a magnificent = book that will remain
among the annals of post-Nazi literature about Ger-
Man Jewry.
- Thus, we start with Cologne the story about
the Jews in Germany in the sixteenth year after
the second world war — because it was here
that Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, from a stand
specially-erected for him in the Synagogue Roon-
strasgei on the day of the dedication of the house
of worship, emphatically repudiated the criminals
who now are held on trial in Jerusalem. It was
here, also, at the same synagogue, that the world-
wide swastika-smearings connnenced" on Dee. 25,
1959. It is here that the Jews of Germany are
beginning to ask the fatal question: what kind of
a future faces us—the handful who have survived
the holocaust?
*
*
*
I must admit that it was with trepidation that I
accepted the invitation of the Federal Republic of
Germany to make.a tour of the West German Jewish
community coincidentally with coverage of the trial
of . Adolf Eichmann.
Fully acquainted with all the details of the 12
years of horror—of, the Kristallnacht, the concentra-
tion camps, the chases and the flights of Jews, the
herding of tens of thousands together Into gas cham-
bers—your Commentator nevertheless knew that there
were some Germans who risked their lives to help
Jews, that one does not generalize about an entire
people and that there must be recognition of the deeds
of those who defied Hitlerism, and there must be a
measure of acknowledgment of a government — the
Adenauer government — whose officials labor with
earnestness and sincerity to atone for the crimes, to
acknowledge the guilt, to make certain that the Hit-
lerite bestialities shall never recur. ,
In listing the - crimes, in his address to the court
of three judges in Jerusalem, Iirael's Attorney Gen,
era]. Gideon Hausner conceded that there were some
Germans who refused to condone the Nazi activities,
who. defied Hitler's orders, even some members of
the military forces often came to the aid of Jews.
Btit they were few—alas, too few!

I yielded - to the entreaties of Israeli officials,
to distinguished fellow Jews—among them noted
scholars and saints—and I am here. But the _
Lamentations have not ended! They have begur
anew!.
*
*.
*
On several occasions, during conversations with
German officials, the regret is heard: would that we
had Jews here! They are gone! If they would only
come back! We need them! We lost the leaders in
culture and in science!
Then, when the pages are turned back,. when an
answer is demanded: "why did • all Germans yield to
the insanity of. Nazism," one of the explanations offered
is that, upon the advent of Hitlerigm, when Germans
read the signs, everywhere: "Die Juden sind . unser
ungluck",the Jews, are our misfortune—they were
swayed by a slogan.
Now the tables have turned. Now, wherever you
turn, you hear men and women in important positions
state: "Our misfortune is that we no longer have any
Jews!" That's the government position. But it is being
uttered :too late! The Aye has been cast. Germany is
Judenrein! The final solution, the crime for which
Eichmann sits in judgment, is a reality insofar as
Germany is concerned.

Tragic Account of
Post-War Status of
f'Stirviving Jews in Germany

About 40 years ago, a Viennese Jewish writer,
Littauer; wrote a novel which also appeared in English
under the title `-`The City Without Jews." He predicted
a Vienna devoid of Jews, the Austrian capital in the
realized anti-SeMitic setting in which - Jewry no longer
exists. Littauer was murdered by an anti Semite
shortly after he had written that prophetic novel. It
was an intolerable augury for anti-Semites.

Today, it is not a mere city without Jews that we
are witnesses to, but an entire state — a state in
which our people played great roles, whose culture
our people had helped spread throughout the world.
For Germans, the contributions Jews made to German
culture is a sad memory. For Jews, it is a -tragic
reminder of a crime for which there can be no
atonement.

The reparations have four more years to run. Then,
even if diplomatic relations are not established be-
tween Germany and Israel, the Cologne Mission will
continue to function as the center for inter change
of trade between Israel and Germany. Each country
already sells to the other merchandise in the amount
of $25,000,000 a year. Israel sells to the Federal
German Republic ; citrus fruits and their byproducts,
wines and candies, textiles, tires, fashionable clothing.
- The existence of the Israel Mission in Cologne, as
stated is a - valid reason for commenfti.g the German'
story with Cologne. But is is a minor rea;oning factor,'
compared with the Jewish elements in ,A13 Cologne
story:

'

-

Cologne's synagogue, located at 50 Roonstrasse,
was rebuilt with funds the community received
from the Federal German Republic. It is a. nag .
nificent, building, with facilities for sociai and
educational functions. It has a kosher restaurant.
There are meeting rooms for all imaginable activi-
ties, and there are provisions for -youth i . .ecre-
ational - programs as well as classrooms:

4,

Official Germany has inaugurated a program
of education to offset the -work' threat that was
inherent in the Hitlerite aspiration to rule the
world for a thousand years. The statement in the
fourth paragraph of this commentary about the
tragedy that "will not be forgotten in a thousand
years" is a direct quotation from statements by
prominent West German officials who feel the
guilt so deeply that they doubt whether it can
be forgotten.

But in the official German attitude there also is
a plea to world Jewry: the head of the Christian-
Jewish good will . movement, a non-Jew whose con-
science is crystal-clear, whose hands are free' from
guilt, virtually begged: "please do not call our share
in the crime collective guilt; please grant us the right
to allude to it as collective shame."
*
*
,*

It was on the walls of the Cologne synagogue that
the swastikas were smeared, the words "juden raus"
—"Jews get out"—were painted on the 1959 Christ-
mas day. Many here contend that the fuss made was
exaggerated, that it may have been a mere prank by
- irresponsible youngsters who were seeking notoriety
and fun.
Yet, there are after effects that remain disturbing.
No one, not even the most apologetic of the govern-
ment officials, denies that "there are Nazis in our
midst." And from their ranks often come manifesta-
tions that are more than pranks: they are actual
echoes from the day of "der fuehrer" who accom-
plished his task—"the final solution of the Jewish
problem in Germany"—even if -he did thereby destroy
the honor and the integrity of his own nation.

*

4

*

An important reason for commencing the German
story in Cologne is the existence in it of the Israel
Mission. It is the Israel purchasing center in Ger-
many, established when the reparations were agreed
upon at Luxembourg in 1952, and when actual pay-
- ments to Israel began , in 1954, when the autonomy
of the present Bonn government commenced. Dr.
Felix Eliezer Shinar, who has headed the Israel Mis-
sion since 1952, is referred to as "Ambassador." It
is an indication' that the Israel Mission, located at
15 Subbelratherstrasse, also serves as the Israeli
diplomatic center in Germany.

The reasons for delays in diplomatic relations
between Israel and Germany wig be told in a
later report. Suffice it at this point to state that
the Israel Mission Is housed in an impressive
three-story building, that it is operated by an able
staff that has managed the securing for Israel,
through available reparations funds, valuable ma-
chinery for many Igraeli industries, many of
Israel's freight and passenger ships,. Israeli rail-
roads, 'oil .which Germany has- purchased in
Venezuela and has transferred to Israel and other
valuable materials.

Leo Savir, deputy director of the Israel Mission;
Dr. Max Leron, its commercial attache; Zvi Bro sh,
who is in charge of .the Mission's information bureau,
constitute an energetic group orleaders who are assist-
ing Dr. 5hinar. They are devoted to their tasks and
they understand the present Je'vish position in
Germany.

'

By Philip
Slomovitz

Upon entering the building, the visitor is witness
to the remains of Torah Scrolls, prayer books, breast-
plates and other objects that were kidder—so he is
told—by Cologne Christians from the Nazis and were
restored to the Jewish community at the end of the
war. They- are in a pitiable state and represent evi-
dence against the. Nazi bestialities.
The facts and figures are even more heart-rending.
There were 18,000 Jews in Cologne prior to the Hitler
madness and the campaign of destruction- of Jewish
lives and properties. Eleven thousand of them were
murdered.
Now there are 1,500 Jews in Cologne. At. least
35 per cent of them are more than 60 years old. Five
per cent are in their forties.
FeW young people are to be seen, and it is gener-
ally predicted that as soon as the young men and
women are . able to do so, they will leave for Israel,
or wherever else they may be able to find homes.
This reporter is - yet to find 'anyone who predicts a
happy future for Cologne or any other portion of
Germany.
Last year there were 40 deaths and one birth
in the Jewish community of Cologne. This, a dis-
tinguished German - Jewish journalist declared,
represents the proportionate outlook for the future
Jewry of Cologne. The eminent journalist we are
quoting—Wilhelm Unger, of the Kolner Staitsan-
zeiger—asked, despairingly: "of what value are
large synagogues to us, when there will be no
one to use them?"
This, too, is the attitude of Dr. Zwi Azaria, about
whom we shall have something to say in another report.
Such is the tragedy of Germany. It is the despair
of German' Jewry, but even more so the tragedy of
Germany itself.
* • .*
• *

This reporter has covered many events of world-
wide significance during his 43 years as a working
newspaperman. He has interviewed Presidents and
important figures in 'several governments, has covered
international gatherings, to the rise` of the UN itself,
to the birth of Israel at the UN and to scores of
occurrences on many fronts.
Many reportorial tasks were difficult and soul-
stirring. Coverage of the Eichmann trial, during its
first crucial three weeks, was heart-rending.

-

But no assignment has been as difficult as
the present one in Germany. No other experience
has ever matched it to the extent of seeing the
. evidence of the holocaust, of observing the results
of mass murders, of seeing wounds opened up
anew and bleeding uninterraptedly. There is a
government here that is pleading for forgiveness,
laboring to atone, praying for understanding of a
position that detests Nazis and Nazism.
Yet the past stares at you if you are in Germany.
It is inerasable. It is painful . . . and the first report
from the truly democratic West German Federal
Republic must end in pain . . .

SPERNICHSVINGSLAGER. ,

The chain of German concentration and extermination camps, as pictured in the German
illustrated weekly magazine, Quick.

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