Germany agrees to try Demjanjuk

By Toby Axelrod, December 18, 2008

Germany’s Federal Supreme Court has given its approval for a Munich court to try accused Nazi war criminal John (Ivan) Demjanjuk.

Following last week’s decision, the 88-year-old man, who has spent most of the post-war period as a US citizen, may now be extradited to Germany, despite the protests of family members who claim he is too frail.


No time limit for art claims

By Leon Symons, December 18, 2008

Germany has pledged there will be no time limit for descendants of Nazi victims to reclaim looted art.

Federal Commissioner for Culture, Bernd Neumann, told a two-day conference in Berlin that the government had rejected calls from some museums to impose deadlines.

The conference, Taking Responsibility, was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Washington Declaration, in which 44 countries agreed to identify and return Nazi-looted art.

Assessing how much progress had been made, Mr Neumann admitted that German museums and collections had been dragging their heels.


Berlin centre opens

November 20, 2008

A new outreach centre has opened in former East Berlin. The Lauder Am Echad Centre for National Outreach, housed in a building bought by local Jewish businessmen Ariel Schiff and Samuel Czarny, will be sponsored by billionaire Ronald Lauder's foundation and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.


Pig’s head hung in German cemetery

By Toby Axelrod, November 20, 2008

Two Jewish cemeteries in the former East German state of Thuringia have been vandalised. In the town of Gotha, the bloody head of a pig was hung on a Star of David motif on the cemetery's iron gates.

According to the state's Interior Ministry, unknown perpetrators vandalised the cemeteries of Gotha and Erfurt. The damage was discovered at 5.30am on Monday morning by a medical rescue worker who was out walking his dog.


Rabbi abused in Berlin

November 6, 2008

Police have arrested two men after a rabbi and eight students were abused in Berlin. Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, 36, was driving his students home when men in a passing car shouted antisemitic abuse and attempted to throw a burning object at them.


Kristallnacht pogrom to be marked across Europe

By Toby Axelrod, November 6, 2008

The 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom is to be marked by communities across Europe on November 9.

The German government and the Central Council of Jews are co-sponsoring a ceremony at the Rykestrasse Synagogue in the former East Berlin, one of the few shuls to survive the war. The city's Jewish community will mark the day at a community centre on the site of a shul destroyed in the attack.


A German shul boom

By Toby Axelrod, September 26, 2008

Just in time for the New Year, two Jewish communities in Germany have new synagogues.

But the buildings themselves are not new. In Bielefeld, a former church has been refitted, its steeple and church bells replaced with a dome. And in Krefeld, a former commercial building has been redesigned, using elements rescued from the synagogue destroyed in the town during the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht pogrom nearly 70 years ago.

Both new synagogues, which each hold 300 worshippers, are located in the former West German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Show reveals how hate lingered in East Germany

By Toby Axelrod, September 26, 2008

An exhibition detailing the extent of antisemitism in the former East Germany has opened in East Berlin.

"There was no such thing!" - Antisemitism in the German Democratic Republic is the the product of Erik Thews, 21, and several other students who began researching the subject as part of a high-school assignment. 

Mr Thews and his fellow students were presented with piles of archival documents that their advisor, Konstanze Ameer, obtained.


Berlin memorial daubed

August 28, 2008

Berlin's Holocaust memorial was daubed with 11 red and black swastikas over the weekend. The monument, consisting of 2,700 concrete slabs near the Brandenburg Gate, has been vandalised several times since it opened in 2005. This latest incident comes a week after a memorial to gay victims of the Nazis was vandalised in the German capital, close to the Shoah monument.


German Jewish pundit defends right to call another Jew anti-Semitic

By Toby Axelrod, August 18, 2008

In a scandal unfolding in a Cologne courtroom, a German Jewish journalist is standing up for his right to call another Jew anti-Semitic.

Henryk Broder, acerbic columnist for Der Spiegel magazine and a well-known pro-Israel blogger in Germany, has refused to settle a civil case with Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, daughter of a former leader of Germany's Jewish community, whom he has publicly accused of making anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist statements.