Jews boycott main German Holocaust commemoration
Group also warns that hostilities in the Middle East are fueling a bitter brand of anti-Semitism in Germany.Berlin -- Germany's most prominent Jewish organization boycotted an official Holocaust ceremony in parliament Tuesday because of perceived snubs in recent years.
In an interview, in which he also warned of rising anti-Semitism in the country, the secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, said Germans needed to do more to reckon with their Nazi past.
"There is a creeping hostility toward Jews, more and more in the center of society," Kramer told the daily Der Tagesspiegel, published on Holocaust Memorial Day, a day that marks the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.
Kramer said that none of the leaders of the Central Council would attend the main commemorative ceremony at the Bundestag lower house of parliament because of what he called a lack of respect in previous years.
"The members of the Central Council in the audience were never personally welcomed," he said.
German President Horst Koehler gave the main speech at the event, which was attended by the majority of Germany's political class including Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Kramer said Germany should be praised for the dozens of ceremonies held throughout the country in honor of Holocaust victims but said there was little reason for optimism about the state of Jewish life in the country.
He said that more than six decades after the Nazis' slaughter of six million European Jews, hostilities in the Middle East were fueling a bitter brand of anti-Semitism in Germany.
"We noticed that during the Gaza war, the amount of hate mail to the Central Council rose 40 percent to 200 to 300 mails per week," he was quoted as saying.
One in 10 included "explicit death threats against specifically named members of the Central Council."
Germany has one of the world's fastest growing Jewish communities, with about 110,000 members, most of them emigrants from the former Soviet Union.