Germany cannot afford to forget Anne Frank

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7:00 am

Too many people in the country turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism

Through Katya Hoyer

The Anne Frank Kindergarten is getting a new name. Credit: Getty

Chants of “Free Palestine from German guilt” echo through the streets, the Star of David graffiti made on the houses of Jewish residents, Molotov cocktails exploding against the walls of a synagogue – these are just some of the reasons why many Jews no longer feel safe in Germany.

Such incidents naturally evoke particularly painful memories for the Jews there. Although there were many collaborators across Europe, it was Nazi Germany whose virulent anti-Semitism was ultimately responsible for the systematic murder of six million Jewish men, women and children during World War II.

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In the country that said ‘Never again!’ made According to the basic mantra, some no longer care about the memory of the Holocaust and doubt its relevance to Germany’s current domestic and foreign policies.

Yesterday, a German nursery made the news when it turned out that this was the case no longer wanted named after Anne Frank. The country has 96 schools and many streets, squares and institutions named in memory of the German-Jewish girl who died at the age of 15 in the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Her diary is still required reading in many places around the world and serves as a stark warning from history.

The Anne Frank Kindergarten has carried this name since its first construction in the 1970s in Tangerhütte, East Germany. Yet a new leadership team led by Linda Schichor says families “with a migration background” have problems with the name. Schichtor told A local newspaper that something “without a political background” would be preferable. She is supported by the city’s mayor, Andreas Brohm, who sees no problem replacing “Anne Frank” with “Weltentdecker” (“World Explorer”) if the new name better reflects the institution’s commitment to “openness of mind” and “diversity”. .

The Tangerhütte municipal council has now announced that it will unanimously oppose the name change and accuse the initiators of the proposal of “historical ignorance”. But the fact remains that some educational and local government leaders think an inconspicuous name like “World Explorer” is more relevant to young Germans today than the story of a child who was murdered in their country just a few generations ago because belonged to a group. minority group.

Anne Frank is not a “political” figure. She did not die for her convictions or actions. She was killed just because of who she was. She was born in a country that burned Jewish houses of worship when she was just nine years old, a country that tried to exterminate the Jewish people from the age of 12. It is absurd to say this about the story of a child murdered by a regime that wanted to eliminate diversity at every level.

It is reassuring to see that the city council has rejected the name change proposal. It is also encouraging that it was the mother of one of the children attending the nursery who alerted the emergency response team Press. She and her own mother had also attended the Anne Frank Kindergarten, and both were shocked and angry when they heard of the plans to change its name. Much of the German press and many politicians have also spoken out in defense of the Jewish people against verbal and physical attacks.

But broader solidarity at the heart of German society is needed if we want to stem the new wave of anti-Semitism. In the first week alone after Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel on October 7, 202 anti-Semitic incidents were reported. included — an increase of 240% compared to the previous year.

For many Jews, the fear of being recognized has returned to the streets of Germany. And that also applies to tacit approval and silence surrounding abuse directed against Jewish people. “Behind closed doors, anti-Semitism has penetrated the middle of society,” he fears Joseph Schuster, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Two of his grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz. To him: “Never again!” is more than an empty sentence. Whether that still applies to enough Germans to guarantee the safety of their Jewish neighbors remains to be seen.

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