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April 20, 1990 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-04-20

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

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Jews Welcome East
Germany's Mea Culpa

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14

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 1990

New York (JTA) — Repre-
sentatives of American and
world Jewry were quick to
respond to the East German
parliament's unequivocal
apology to the Jewish people
for their suffering in the
Nazi era, and its acceptance
of responsibility as an heir to
the Third Reich.
A statement, filled with
contrition and self-reproach,
was delivered at the tele-
vised inaugural session of
the new Volkskammer,
where Christian Democrat
Lother de Maiziere, elected
just a month ago, was in-
stalled as prime minister.
"East Germany's first
freely elected parliament
admits joint responsibility
on behalf of the people for
the humiliation, expulsion
and murder of Jewish wo-
men, men and children,"
said the statement, read by
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl,
speaker and acting head of
state in the new regime.
"We feel sad and ashamed.
We ask the Jews of the world
to forgive us."
Apologies were extended
as well to Israel, with whom
the parliament expressed
hope of soon establishing
diplomatic relations.
The statement was a total
rejection of the position held
for 40 years by East Ger-
many's Stalinist rulers, that
the GDR bore no respon-
sibility for Nazi atrocities
because it was founded on
anti-fascism.
"There's widespread rec-
ognition that this is an im-
portant historical statement
turning over from the past
and looking to the future,"
said U.S. State Department
spokesman Richard
Boucher.
Dr. Israel Miller, president
of the New York-based Con-
ference on Jewish Material
Claims Against Germany,
welcomed the East Berlin
declaration.
"We are heartened by the
readiness of the GDR
parliament to follow its sen-
timents with deeds by pro-
viding just compensation for
material losses," he said.
World Jewish Congress
President Edgar Bronfman
called the GDR's statement
"the first step in the founda-
tion of a new relationship
between the Jewish people
and the whole of the German
people."
Bronfman added, "We
believe the next step in the
process is to arrive at ar-
rangements for appropriate

material amends on the part
of East Germany for crimes
of the Nazis, as has already
been implemented by West
Germany."
Benjamin Meed, president
of the American Federa-
tion/Gathering of Jewish
Holocaust Survivors,
observed that "what is real-
ly important is what affect
the statement will have in
preventing any repetition of
the Holocaust in the future."
According to Burton
Levinson, national chair-
man of the Anti- Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith, the
East German declaration
"demonstrates that the
country stands ready to con-
front its Nazi past.
B'nai B'rith International
President Seymour Reich
welcomed the statement as a
"belated recognition of
historical fact," and "a
hopeful sign that the
planned reunification of
Germany will be a positive
development."
In a footnote from Prague,
abbots of the Roman
Catholic Church issued a
statement expressing regret
for the church's failure to act
against the Nazi genocide
against the Jews during
World War II.
The statement voiced
remorse that church leaders
did not "raise our voices" to
assist the rescue of Jews.
"Our help to those
persecuted was not helpful
enough," it said.
The statement also
welcomes Czechoslovakia's
re-establishment of diplo-
matic relations with Israel.

'East Germany
Aided Arabs'

Bonn (JTA) — An official of
the former Communist
regime in East Germany
who found asylum in the
West confirmed that his
country had been a major
provider of weapons to
Israel's Arab adversaries.
Alexander Schalck-
Golodkowski, who was in
charge of hard- currency
dealings, said East German
arms were sold to Iraq, Jor-
dan and Egypt, and to non-
Arab Iran, which has been
an implacable foe of Israel
since the fall of the Shah in
1979.
But the former official
made no mention of arms
shipments to the Palestine
Liberation Organization or
other Palestinian groups.

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