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May 26, 1961 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-05-26

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEW S — Friday, May 26, 196 1

The Aftermath of the
Holocaust — the Events
and Challenges in Germany

Purely Commentary

BERLIN, West Germany—Berlin's Jewish com-
munity is an oasis in Germany. Berlin itself may
be considered an oasis. There have been assurances
by Jewish spokesmen that more Jews were rescued
in Berlin and Baden-Baden than anywhere else in
Germany—especially by trade unionists who helped
hide their Jewish friends. -
There were not many who were saved in this
fashion, but they are being accounted for here.
The Berlin Jewish community is the largest in
Germany—it numbers 6,000 out of the total of 22,000
registered German Jews.
Heinz Galinski, chairman of the Berlin Jewish
community (Judisches Gemeinde) since its organi-
zation in its present form in 1949, speaks with enthu-
siasm about the set-up in his kehillah. The visitor
from the United States who accompanies him on a
tour of the magnificent Judisches Gemeindehaus
shares his enthusiasm and often wishes that other
Jewish communities throughout the world had such
facilities. There is a fine synagogue, comfortable con-
ference rooms, lecture halls, a well organized kinder-
garten. The community has a school .for 250 students
for afternoon Jewish studies and a, Talmud Torah
for more extensive religious training for 30 more
pupils. There is a mikvah, and there are five syna-
gogues in Berlin—two consecutive, one hassidic,
one liberal and one orthodox. On Holy Days there
are supplementary services for an overflow atten-
dance.
There are two cooperative apartment houses
for older people who can care for themselves
and prepare their own meals in these well equipped
apartments—named in memory of Leo Baeck and
Heinrich Stahl—and a home for aged starting with
the age of 60, the oldest present resident now
approaching her 98th birthday.•-
There is a Jewish hospital—Judisches 1Cranken-
haus=and "while it' does not have many Jewish
patients, it reinains under JeWish supervision,
juSt as the synagogues are always under communal
supervision. Thus, there is a cultural life, there
are exhibitions of arts and crafts, the Berlin Jewish
community has a large and expanding Jewish li-
brary, it sponsors a kosher restaurant in the Ju-
disches Gemeindehaus at Fasanenstrasse 79-80, in
the Charlottesburg area. An effort is made to
encourage Jewish interests among the youth, non-
Jews attend all the functions and the government
takes a deep interest in the community's efforts,
frequently financing Jewry's cultural functions.
Heinz Galinski and the community's secretary, Ger-
hard Schaefer, whose offices are at 13 Joachim-
talstrasse, speak enthusiastically about the Chris-
tian-Jewish relations.
But the figures these men provided speak
louder than any of the enthusiastic reports thus
far recorded. The Gemeinde has monthly records of
the numbers of •Jews in Berlin. For April, the
record shows the following numbers according to
ages:
686
31-40
139
0-3
908
113
41-50
4-6
1,301
51-60
450
7-15
1,280
61-70
.140
16-20
'785
70 and older
310
21-30
During March there were three births and
13 deaths, and during April no births and 12 deaths.
These figures reveal conditions that are not to
be overlooked. Like the rest of German Jewry,
Berlin is a community mostly of old people. The
young are few in numbers. There is very little
hope of an increase in the population of the
youth, and the birth rate is low.
Furthermore, the indications are that the
young, in the main, have no intention to remain in
Germany.
One of our guides, Bernd Scholz, a student
of journalism at the Berlin Free University, a
liberal young chap who does not tolerate the
Nazis or their ideas, told us there are three
Jews in his classes. He added that "they stick
together." He implied - a "clannishness" that is
unmatched anywhere else, because of the meth-
ories that haunt the Jews in Germany. He ex-
pressed - regrets that it should be so, but he
hastened to add that he can understand why
it should be so.
It is not to be doubted that the government also
understands why it should be so. It is a good
government, and the Berlin municipal government,
under the mayoralty of Willy Brandt, is especially
good.
The entire Federal Republic of Germany is im-
bued with a desire to atone for the crimes, to make
Jews feel at home, to welcome Jews, to finance all
Jewish cultural activities. There is a governmental
friendship of so high an order that it defies com-
parison. Everything smacking of Nazism or anti-
Semitism is banned by law. Everything Jewish vir-
tually is supported by law.
But this friendship does not solve anything.
It does not cure. The memories are here.
There is this to be said. The anti-Nazi demon-
strations are visible, and if there are memories
of a friendly nature for Nazism they are not notice-
able and are invisible.
Every German who knows the story of the rise
of Nazism and the resistance to it constantly
deplores the fact that the gesture of friendship for
Hitler by Britain's Prime Minister Chamberlain
should have ended a coup to eliminate Hitler,
that trade union opposition to Hitler should have
been destroyed by Stalin's pact with Hitler, in

1938 and 1939; and that the German generals' plot
to kill Hitler, on July 20, 1944, should have failed.
In tribute to the latter, a memorial has
been erected on the spot where the executions
of the rebels were ordered by Hitler. Berliners
visit the memorial on July 20 to pay tribute
to the participants in the abortive attempt on ,
Hitler's life. There are other occasions when
Germans honor those who resisted. Members of
the government participate in Warsaw Ghetto
commemorations, in concentration camp libera
tion anniversaries and similar events.
The catastrophe is remembered. The memory it-
self awakens the haunting thoughts which perpetu-
ate recollections of the tragedies. It is no wonder
that the Hitler era can not and will not be forgotten.
Berlin is a divided city, and the split adds to
the uncertainties of life, the Jewish community
sharing in the challenges created by the East-West
conflict. There are 1,500 Jews in Russian-controlled
East Germany, 800 of them in ,East Berlin. There
is a synagogue there, the East Berliners get their
kosher meat from West Berlin, and the hazanim
in the latter perform funeral services whenever
there are deaths in East Berlin.
Very close to the elegant Kurfurstendamm shop-
ping area the Jewish central quarters functions
well. It is doubtful, however, whether they have
much of a future. The Gemeinde lives under the
shadow of destruction that occurred on the same
Kurfurstendamm when the avenue was full of Jew-
ish-owned shops — shops whose windows were
smashed and store contents pilfered on Kristallnacht
in November 1938. In East Berlin a Communist spirit
hides the facts. Unlike West Germany, East Ger-
many refuses to pay reparations. The tragedy is
hardly reduced by the East-West conflict.
*

*
Frau Jeanette Wolff is one of the more inter-
esting Jewish personalities in West Germany. A
resident of Berlin, she represents the Berlin dis-
trict in the Bundestag and is the most positive
Jewish member of the Parliament of the Federal
Republic. While Jakob Altrneyer, another Jewish
member, is interested in German-Israel relations and
was a participant in planning the reparations agree-
ment, he has little interest in Jewish life.
Bundestag Deputy Frau Wolff survived the
concentration camp atrocities with a daughter, but
her husband and two other daughters perished. She
has been active in Jewish communal work since
1912 and was a leader in the trade union movement.
Approaching her 73rd birthday, Frau Wolff is
one of the co-chairmen of the Judisches Frauen-
bund which has chapters in all German Jewish
communities. There are 7 00 members in this wom-
en's organization in Berlin, but the WIZO in Berlin,
the women's Zionist organization, numbers only
about 50 members. A WIZO exhibition during the
first week in May, however, had community-wide
participation and attracted wide interest.
Frau Wolff's only surviving daughter married a
survivor from Nazism who was sterilized in a
concentration camp. Mrs. Wolff relates how a Cath-
olic priest, Schubert, advised her relatives, who
happened to stray out of a camp, not to return
there, since it would mean certain death. He thus
saved _several lives.
Mrs. Wolff had befriended a number of Ameri-
cans, including Victor Reuther, the Detroit labor
leader.
She is the oldest of 16 children and the only
survivor in the family. Five brothers lost their
lives as German soldiers in World War I.
*
*
*
The echoes of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem
are heard here uninterruptedly. The German press
gives a fair and complete account of the court pro-
ceedings, and there is more than passing interest
in the thrice-weekly television reports from Jeru-
salem. Government officials especially follow the
trial proceedings with keenest interest.
While the press. is, in the main, fair and ob-
jective—and emphasizes the need for all Germans
to know the past in order to atone and to prevent
recurrence of Nazism—there is a frequent echo
of prejudice.
Thus, the Spiegel, which is viewed as the
German likeness of Time, contained a letter from a
lady from Frankfurt who signed herself Gerlinde
Kuhne who ended her missive with the words
"die Juden selbst waren die Teufel." The same
issue of Spiegel (Mirror) contained a Council of
Judaism type of self-hating letter by a man from
Dortmund - Marten, Jeshu Goldmann, who wrote:
"Die Juden als Kulturferment haben als zweitausend
Jahren keine Volksaufgabe haben." Likened to the
recent assertions of Council of Judaism spokesmen
in Philadelphia, this is the type of letter that fans
hatred. Christian Germans would not dare to be as
anti-Semitic as the Council for Judaism emerged
in its convention.
What is disturbing government officials in West
Germany more than anything else is the fear of in-
crimination of many former Nazis in the Jerusalem
proceedings. The protests that have been raised
against the retention of Hans Globke, a former Nazi
collaborator, as Chancellor Adenauer's Secretary of
State, are mounting, but Dr. Adenauer is deter-
mined to retain him.
Since, however, the names mentioned by Eich-
mann's defense counsel Robert Servatius as possible
defense witnesses are mostly imprisoned Nazis, there
has been an easing of feeling here, and attention is
focused on the television transmissions of actual trial

.

.

By Philip
Slomovitz

scenes as means of enlightening the German people
on the events in Jerusalem.
When the Eichmann trial first commenced, there
was fear of possible repercussions in Germany. But
there have been very few outright manifestations of
pro-Eichmannism. In only isolated instances have pro-
Nazis asserted their anti-Jewish sympathies and very
few signs of "Life to Eichmann, Death to Jews" have
been seen. In one small community the painting of
such a sign inspired a public meeting of the commu-
nity's citizens at which solidarity was expressed with
the Jewish residents and the sentiments were express-
ed that the truth must be made known and the Eich-
mann trial fully exposed.
The major emphasis, inspired by the government,
is that the youth should ask questions about the Hitler
era, that the parents should not hesitate to tell the
story and to admit guilt in order that the new order
may function in a cleansed atmosphere.
Government efforts to express friendship for
the remaining German Jewish population of approxi-
mately 22,000—out of a pre-Hitler German Jewry
that numbered 600,000—manifested themselves in
many ways. One of them was the broadcasting of a
commentary, by Col. Gerd Schmuckle, in behalf of
the Federal Ministry of Defense, indicating the ex-
tent of Jewish participation in Germany's armed
forces until the advent of Elitlerism. Schmuckle's
statement goes into great length to show "the true
image" of the Jews of Germany who lost 12,000
men in battles in World War I, who had a number
of heroes who were officially recognized by Ger-
many. The official statement condemns and repudi-
ates the Nazi attitude.
Nevertheless the Jewish tragedy in Germany re-
mains unchecked. As a result of the Hitlerite trends,
there are no Jews in the present Bundeswehr, the
West German army, due partly to Jewish suspicions
and partly to the German desire to bend backwards
in friendship to Jews—even to the extent of cancelling
the drafting of Jewish boys—something that is now
being deeply resented in Jewish ranks.

Cologne's Rabbi Is Pessimistic
COLOGNE, Germany. — Dr. Alexander Ginsburg,
the chairman of the local Jewish community, is proud
of the numerous activities that have been set up here.
He and his associate, Sally Kessler, the secretary of
the synagogue and the Gemeinde, point with satisfac-
tion to the manner in which the government assists
in the development of Jewish projects. They are less
happy about the social status of Cologne's Jews and
about the reactions of the youth to communal planning.
One of Cologne's leaders, when asked about the
reactions of non-Jews to their Jewish neighbors, said
that outwardly all is wonderful, but—and he accom-
panied the but by quoting a Russian proverb: he said
you can feel a bear's fur, but not his character. "How
can we look into the heart of people?" , he asked.
Dr. Zvi Azaria (Helfgott), who has been rabbi
of the Roonstrattse Synagogue for eight years, is plan-
ning to go back to Israel before the year is over. He
says that he will have to return as a- halutz, before
establishing what vocation he will pursue. He has
written and lectured extensively on questions relating
to German-Jewish history, especially the history of
Cologne. His attitudes are marred by disappointments
and some elements of despair over the future status
of Jewry in Germany.
In the presence of a representative of the Bundes-
presseamt, he complained about the manner of assist-
ance that has been given to German Jewry by the
German government. He acknowledged the material
aid given Jewry, but complained that there has been
little assistance in providing greater spiritual suste-
nance to Jewry. "I told it to President Luebke, and
I repeat it," he said, "that little has been done to give
us spiritual aid. There are only six rabbis in Germany
—in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Essen, Cologne
and Dortmund. There should be more, and there
should be greater effort to establish Jewish schools
and related agencies."
Later we found that there are rabbis also in East
and West Berlin. Rabbi Maria was the extremist among
complainants. But he insisted, addressing the non-
Jewess from Bundespresseamt, "ich verlasse Deutsch-
land mit kein Hass"—"I leave Germany without
hatred." But he insisted that "die Regierung ist nicht
richtig beraten," that the government is not properly
advised, and he declared, in recognition of all that
the government does and aims to do to establish the
best German-Jewish relations, that "ich habe Mitleid
mit Deutschland" — "I sympathize with Germany."
In explanation of his attitude, Rabbi Azaria re-
called that, as rabbi and community leader in Belsen,
after the camp's liberation, he served 50,000 sur-
vivors who then led an enthusiastic Jewish life. He
said there was a college, a theater, a library, all
facilities for a highly standardized Jewish existence,
and that all of that had vanished when the inmates
wandered away, leaving no trace of it among those
who remained in Germany. For the latter, he said,
there should have been built up a higher Jewish
spiritual existence. He blamed the government for
having failed on that score.
Dr. Azaria was a bit skeptical about the "frater-
nal" and "brotherhood" efforts of the Kristlich-
Judische Gesellschaft. He insisted that those who
helped rescue Jews are silent, but there are many
who claim to have done so but could not prove it. He
urged the setting of a genuine honor roll of those who
did risk their lives to save Jews from Nazism.
The Cologne rabbi said that often Christians hesi-
tate to acknowledge responsibility. He also mentioned
(Continued on Pages 20 and 21)

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