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October 30, 1992 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-30

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

The
FOURTH
Reich?

A first-hand
report on
neo-Nazi
violence
in Germany.

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

or Jews, the images from a
reunified Germany — skin-
heads and other right-wing
extremists running wild much as
Hitler's Brown Shirts did in the early
days of the Nazi rise to power — have
been like the return of a horrifying
dream.
Several weeks ago, the restored Jew-
ish barracks at the Sachsenhausen con-
centration camp near Berlin was
firebombed — the most dramatic in an
escalating series of incidents at Holo-
caust memorials.
Throughout Germany, neo-Nazi skin-
heads continue to attack refugee "hos-
tels" — in some cases encouraged by
cheering, recession-weary townspeople.
Meanwhile, the government of Chan-
cellor Helmut Kohl, which has been
widely criticized for its feeble response
to the disturbances, announced an
agreement with Romania to deport Gyp-
sies whose appeals for political asylum
had been rejected, an act that shocked
many who recalled the extermination of
500,000 Gypsies in Nazi gas chambers.
Acknowledging its failure to control
the right-wing violence, German par-

liament members last week agreed that
their nation's image as a vibrant Euro-
pean democracy had been severely tar-
nished.
Is Germany heading down the same
dark road that once led to an unprece-
dented Holocaust? Are the Jews of Ger-
many — some 40,000 now live there —
once again in grave physical danger?
Not so, argue German officials, who
anxiously note that conditions today are
very different from the 1920s and 1930s,
when an economy in free fall provided
the raw materials for the Nazi revolu-
tion. Germany, they insist, has devel-
oped powerful institutions to protect
its fragile democracy.
But there are other voices that tell a
grimmer tale.
Three years ago, Rabbi Ernst Stein,
the chief rabbi of Berlin's non-Orthodox
community, was virtually alone in pre-
dicting that reunification would cause
enormous economic dislocations — which,
in turn, would release the ethnocentric
demons lurking in Germany's dark clos-
et.
Since unification, Rabbi Stein's pes-
simism has only deepened.

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