Germany

Germany's Russian revolution

By Toby Axelrod, November 5, 2009

In Germany this autumn, there has been a tremendous build-up to Monday’s 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A generation has passed since the sound of chisels rang out across that divide, when colourfully dressed youths clambered onto the concrete barrier and set about removing it.

In one generation, the entire landscape of Jewish life in Germany has changed. After the wall collapsed, and then the Soviet Union, thousands of Jews poured into Germany, welcomed by the government and by Jewish institutions. The Jewish community here today is overwhelmingly Russian.

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Israelis positive about Germany

By Nathan Jeffay, September 18, 2009

A new poll indicates that the majority of Israelis have a firmly positive attitude towards Germany and German culture.

In March 2008, some Israeli politicians voiced outrage when German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Knesset in German.

But according to the new research, just published by the Hebrew University, three in five Israeli Jews think that Germany has handled the memory of the Holocaust well.

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Stasi link to Claims Conference lawyer

By Toby Axelrod in Berlin, September 10, 2009

Turn over any stone in the former East Germany and you are likely to find an agent of the Stasi, the former secret service. And the Claims Conference apparently did just that.

Recently, the Claims Conference — whose successor organisation handles compensation for property stolen during the Shoah — learned that an attorney in its employment had once been “an unofficial employee of the Stasi”.

Many former East Germans worked for the Stasi, though some were listed as informants without their knowledge.

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Imprisoned by MI5 for writing a letter home to mum

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

Henry Wuga was just 15 when he was interned early in the Second World War for writing a letter to his parents in Germany.

Almost 70 years later, Mr Wuga confirmed his long-held suspicion that it was only a declaration of his innocence by MI5 that got him released from prison.

Mr Wuga, now 85, with two married daughters and four grandsons, told his story as part of the BBC’s The Week We Went to War series, shown this week to commemorate the outbreak of the Second World War.

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Germany, confront your antisemitism

By Benjamin Weinthal, August 27, 2009

The Federal Republic of Germany has named 10 members to its first-ever government commission to combat antisemitism.

The pressing question is whether the commission members will remain stuck in the past and devote their energies to fighting a largely obsolete form of Jew hatred: Nazi-style biological and racial antisemitism? Or will they address the gravest threats to Jews in Germany, which are Muslim antisemitism and that version dressed up as anti-Israel activity?

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Netanyahu to receive Auschwitz plans

By Jessica Elgot, August 26, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be presented with the original architectural plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, to keep at Yad Vashem, during his trip to Germany.

Mr Netanyahu will attend a special ceremony in Berlin where the German newspaper Bild will present the plans to him, along with Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev and the director of the Yad Vashem archives, Haim Gertner.

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Nazi killer gets life in jail — 65 years late

By Toby Axelrod, Berlin, August 13, 2009

A Munich court has sentenced a former German Wehrmacht lieutenant to spend the rest of his life in jail for ordering the killings of Italian villagers in June 1944. Josef Scheungraber, 90, was found guilty of ten of the 14 murders with which he had been charged.

He had been living for decades in a town outside Munich, where he served on the town council.

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Top German honour for Israeli lawyer provokes outrage

By John Rosenthal, August 6, 2009

Germany has just awarded one of its highest honours, the “Federal Merit Cross, First Class”, to Israeli lawyer Felicia Langer. A former member of the Israeli Communist Party, Langer is known in Germany, above all, as a ferocious critic of Israel.

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Call to lift German Mein Kampf ban

By Jessica Elgot, August 6, 2009

Germany’s main Jewish representative organisation has renewed its efforts to overturn the state’s ban on publishing Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council for Jews in Germany has called for the publication of a scholarly edition of the book, with footnotes challenging Hitler’s assertions, claiming it would prevent black market printing of the book where neo-Nazi groups profit.

Mr Kramer also argued that continuing to ban the book would glamorise it, and that Germans were sophisticated enough to make up their own minds.

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Nazis fined over accounts

April 7, 2009

Germany’s main neo-Nazi party has been ordered to pay a fine of €2.5 million (£2.3 million) for accounting irregularities.

A lawyer for the National Democratic Party warned that the fine could lead to the collapse of the party.

It was imposed by the national government four months after the former NPD treasurer was jailed for stealing €741,000 (£677,000) from the party.

The NPD is a legal political party represented in two of Germany’s 16 state legislatures. NPD officials praised Iran’s President Ahmadinejad when he argued that Israel should be wiped off the map.

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