Report finds 1 in 5 Germans antisemitic

By Jennifer Lipman, January 23, 2012
The Holocaust memorial in Berlin

The Holocaust memorial in Berlin

A report into antisemitism in Germany has found that the country has a problem with entrenched hostility towards Jews.

According to the survey, which was commissioned in 2009 by the German parliament to look into antisemitism, some 20 per cent of citizens display anti-Jewish attitudes.

The report showed children using the word "Jew" as a slur as well as sports fans chanting that Jews should be sent to the gas chambers and making other offensive Holocaust references. The internet was cited as a particular problem in spreading these attitudes.

While the authors noted that antisemitism was still a tactic employed by far-right movements, they said that anti-Jewish hostility remained among at least a fifth of ordinary German society.

They said that Germany had less of a problem with antisemitism than countries including Poland or Portugal, but added that there was "a wider acceptance in mainstream society of day-to-day anti-Jewish tirades and actions".

Peter Longerich, one of the report's authors, said: " Antisemitism in our society is based on widespread prejudices, deeply rooted clich├ęs and on sheer ignorance about Jews and Judaism."

The vice-president of a group representing Holocaust survivors said the report's findings had left him deeply shaken.

"We commend the authorities for honestly exposing and confronting the scope of the problem," said Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants. "The tragic legacy of the Nazi era places a special burden on Germany to confront anti-Jewish hate."

Last updated: 11:28am, January 24 2012