Posted Monday, August 2, 1999

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Agence France Presse

Bubis complains Jews still strangers in Germany


BERLIN, July 27 (AFP) -- The president of the central Jewish council in Germany, Ignatz Bubis, said that Jews and non-Jews were still strangers to one another in this country.

Since taking office in 1992, "I've achieved nothing or next to nothing," Bubis complained in an interview to be published in the weekly magazine Stern on Thursday.

"I wanted to do away with all this shutting each other out, the Germans here, the Jews there. I thought I'd be able to make people think differently about each other, treat each other differently. But I've achieved very little. The majority haven't even understood what I was talking about."

Bubis said that politicians had not done enough to anchor the responsibility for Auschwitz in the public conscience.

"Everyone in Germany feels responsible for Schiller, for Goethe and for Beethoven. But no one feels responsible for Himmler," he said.

Despite his bitterness, Bubis, 72, denied that he was tired of office. He was re-elected in 1997 and did not rule out a further term.

The Jewish leader said he planned to remain a German citizen, but wanted to be buried in Israel.

"I don't want my grave to be blown up as (his predecessor) Heinz Galinski's was," he said.

Unfortunately, the danger that the dignity of the dead could be sullied was still "very great" in this country, he said.

Daily Telegraph
Thursday 29 July 1999


Germans attacked for 'forgetting' Holocaust

By Andrew Gimson in Berlin

THE leader of Germany's Jews has bitterly attacked modern Germans who, he believes, feel Auschwitz has nothing to do with them and want to stop thinking about the Holocaust.

Ignatz Bubis, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said: "The responsibility for Auschwitz is not anchored in the public consciousness. "Every person in Germany feels responsible for Schiller, for Goethe and for Beethoven, but none for Himmler." Mr Bubis believes that a large part of the population thinks it is "time to draw a line" under the Holocaust and "only look forward", but he warns his fellow Germans that the future cannot be faced without also facing up to the past.

Although he was born in Germany and is a German citizen, Mr Bubis, 72, says he does not want to be buried there. "I should like to be buried in Israel, because I do not want my grave to be blown up, like Heinz Galinski's," he said. Mr Galinski, a concentration camp survivor and a celebrated predecessor of Mr Bubis as leader of Germany's Jews, is buried in Berlin, where his grave was recently damaged by a bomb.

At the heart of Mr Bubis's sadness, expressed in an interview with today's Stern magazine, is the sense that he has failed to break down barriers between Jews and other Germans. "I wanted to get rid of this division, here Germans, there Jews . . . But no, I have had almost no effect. The majority of people have not even understood what I was trying to do," he said.

About 70,000 Jews live in Germany, including about 11,000 in Berlin, and some of them believe Mr Bubis is being far too gloomy about his achievements during his seven years in office. His colleague Michel Friedman said yesterday that he did not realise what he had achieved.

Mr Bubis, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust and was 18 when he was freed from Nazi imprisonment, said he did not expect young Germans to get out of bed each morning and pour ashes over their heads. He said he tells schoolchildren that they "must know what human beings were capable of doing".

The novelist Martin Walser recently said Auschwitz was being used as a "moral club" to beat the Germans over the head, and gave warning that the heavy coverage of the Holocaust on German television could prove counter-productive. But these remarks appalled Mr Bubis, who saw them as confirmation that most Germans wanted to look the other way and forget what happened.

When asked why he went on living in Germany, Mr Bubis said it was because he "feels at home", a reason given by many Jews for living there, while others who have emigrated since the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union say Germany is now a much safer place for them than Russia. The Holocaust is passionately debated in the German press along with the decade-long argument about whether and, if so, how to build a memorial in Berlin to the murdered European Jews.

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