Knobloch elected as German Jewish leader

7th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 June 2006, BERLIN - A "straight-talking" Holocaust survivor was elected Wednesday as the new leader of Germany's main Jewish organization, representing about 100,000 Jews living in the country.

7 June 2006

BERLIN - A "straight-talking" Holocaust survivor was elected Wednesday as the new leader of Germany's main Jewish organization, representing about 100,000 Jews living in the country.

Charlotte Knobloch, who is 73, was overwhelmingly elected to the high-profile presidency of the Central Council of German Jews, the sources said. She ran unopposed for the post.

Knobloch, who until now was vice-president of the group, is well- known as head of Munich's Jewish community and for her role in steering plans for a new Jewish community centre, synagogue and museum in the Bavarian capital.

She also played a major role in helping to integrate thousands of Russian Jews who arrived in Germany after the 1990 German reunification.

A Holocaust survivor, Knobloch narrowly escaped death during the Nazi era by hiding at a farm in northern Bavaria. Her grandmother was murdered at Auschwitz and her father, who was made a slave labourer, barely survived the Third Reich.

Knobloch has been outspoken with calls to ban the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). A ban passed by the previous German government was struck down by Germany's highest court.

She has also criticized Germany's Protestant and Catholic churches for what she view as their passive reaction to the recent upsurge of neo-Nazis.

"A straight-talking woman," was how the German-Jewish weekly Juedische Allgemeine described Knobloch.

She succeeds Paul Spiegel who died after a long illness on April 30.

Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Knobloch's election and praised her "active and tireless engagement," said deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg.

About 100,000 Jews now live in Germany.

Russian Jewish immigrants, who have been admitted to Germany under a directive by former chancellor Helmut Kohl since 1990, have provided a big boost to the community. Prior to 1990 there were only about 30,000 Jews resident in Germany.

Before the Holocaust about 600,000 Jews lived in Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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