Germans and Jews

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk




A few weeks ago we visited Florida and spent Friday night attending Shabbat services at Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach, a conservative synagogue.

Rabbi Isaac Jeret spoke that evening about the possible war against Iraq and made the startling comment that we need to concern ourselves not only with the threat Iraq poses to the world and Israel, but that we must also consider the Iraqi people.

Rabbi Jeret quoted Shemoth (Exodus), Chapter VI, verse 9. “Va’yedaber Moshe kane el benai Yisroel velo shomoo el Moshe miktzer ruach umayavodoh kosho. And Moses spoke to the children of Israel but they did not hear Moses because they were dispirited and cruelly enslaved.” Rabbi Jeret explained that Moses spoke first to the Children of Israel and only after he recognized that they could not hear him he spoke to Pharaoh. The next two verses, 10 and 11, read as follows: “ Vayedabare Adonai el Moshe laymor: (11) Bow, daber el Paraow, melech mitzrayim etc. Go and speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt …..” Rabbi Jeret explained that the people of Iraq are today so enslaved that they cannot hear the voice of reason and freedom and that therefore we must speak to Saddam even as Moses spoke to Pharaoh.

As I heard the Rabbi’s sermon I contemplated the condition of the German people among whom I grew up, only to be enslaved by my fellow countrymen, escaping death by gassing through sheer luck and not because of any merit.

During the many years since I had the good fortune of coming to the United States, I visited my erstwhile home six times. Each time I wanted to see if perhaps the German people had changed. Each time I hoped to feel at home again; to hear the language of my mother and father and my grade school teachers, and each time I hoped that after the terrible events of the Second World War the German people would finally hear the voice of Hashem and Moses.

Now there were always, among my American Jewish friends, those who could not understand how any Jew could visit Germany. They believed that the Germans would never learn, never relinquish their hatred, never be fit to have even one Jew live among them.

Then there were those who thought, as I did, that even the Germans could hear the voice of the Lord and remember Leviticus 19:18 (look it up). In fact, it seemed at one time that the Germans and the Europeans were trying to at least admit their guilt for the murder of 6 million of our people.

Yet, the last two years have shown that I was wrong. Consider this. Before 1990 there were about 30,000 Jews in Germany. This tiny community was all that was left of the 580,000 Jews who lived there before 1939. Then, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, 100,000 Jews migrated from Russia to Germany in the belief that Germany had changed. Seeing some economic opportunities and relying on the German government's official welcome, these Jews moved into the land of Luther and Hitler.

Now, fifty-seven years after the defeat of the Nazi-German armies, fifty three years after Germany regained its independence (1949), nothing has changed. Once more, the small Jewish community living among 80 million Germans is confronted with the same hatred that led to the Holocaust. A recent survey showed that 53% of Germans believe that all Jews cheat and use tricks in business. Jewish influence, say the Germans, is too great. The Germans recently firebombed the death march museum in Sachsenhausen, shouted “you crucified Jesus” and “Jews out” during a ceremony naming a Berlin street “Judengasse”, and defaced a number of synagogues.  At a recent showing of the film The Pianist the German audience screamed with laughter when they saw the Nazi killers force crippled Jews to dance.  No less than 17% of Germans today say that “Hitler was a great statesman” and a large number of Germans hide behind a so-called disagreement with the policies of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to spew anti-Jewish hatred. In that they are aided and abetted by the Poles and the Belgians and of course the Arabs everywhere.

So we return to our initial question. Are the Germans so enslaved that they cannot hear the voice of love and freedom? Surely, fifty-seven years after the end of the “Third Reich” the Germans have had enough time to act as our American brethren act. For example, in Idaho, not in Germany, the people dedicated a memorial to Anne Frank costing $1.5 million. This is the work of Americans who had nothing to do with the Nazi horrors and whose population includes few Jews. In Salt Lake City, Utah, in Florida, in New York City and of course in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., holocaust museums are visited by millions of our non-Jewish fellow citizens each year. Here, but not in Germany, Israel is supported in its struggle to defend itself against another effort to slaughter another 5 million Jews as the Arabs, in association with the European haters, seek the destruction of Israel. The Belgian bigots have even gone so far as to designate all Israelis “war criminals” as they support the Nobel Peace Prize winner and super terrorist Arafat.

The lesson is clear. America hears the voice of the Lord and of Moses. So far, the Germans have not yet heard it. Let us hope that they and their European-Arab allies will hear it yet, Bimhayro v’yomeinoo 

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002), & Man's Ascent to Reason (2002).

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