A Holocaust memorial ceremony organised by the Israeli embassy in Germany was disrupted by neo-Nazi trolls on Monday who interrupted the testimony of a survivor with antisemitic slurs, pictures of Adolf Hitler and pornographic content.
The online event was held over video conferencing platform Zoom because of Germany’s coronavirus restrictions.
As it was being addressed by Holocaust survivor Zvi Herschel, neo-Nazi trolls began heckling and posting neo-Nazi material, forcing the event to be temporarily suspended until they could be removed.
“During a Zoom meeting on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day by the Embassy of Israel in Berlin that hosted survivor Zvi Herschel, anti-Israel actvists disrupted his talk posting pictures of Hitler and shouting anti-Semitic slogans,” ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff said.
“The event had to be suspended. After a short break, the event was reconvened without the activists and conducted in an appropriate and respectful way.
“To dishonour the memory of the survivor is beyond shame and disgrace and shows the blatant antisemitic nature of the activists.”
So-called “Zoom bombings” in which ceremonies, conferences and events are targeted by trolls have become an increasing problem as social, business and communal lives shift online as a means of overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.
The Anti-Defamation League has warned that many have a distinctly antisemitic character, and antisemitic trolls have targeted Jewish events such as bar mitzvahs and synagogue services in the UK over the past few weeks.
Mr Issacharoff told Haaretz that next week’s community commemoration of Israel’s Memorial Day would be accessible only to those with a password, and would not be widely publicised.
“As I listened to the siren on the radio this morning, I felt profoundly saddened that after so many years – 75 years after the Holocaust – someone here could desecrate the memory of the Shoah and disrupt a survivor’s testimony,” he said.
“Now I feel very sad, but I also feel this is a day we have to be strong. This is what ‘Never Again’ means; it is a call for everyday action standing against Nazi thinking and Nazi phraseology.”
Heiko Maas, Germany’s Foreign Minister, expressed outrage at the news.
“What an incredible lack of respect towards survivors and towards the memory of the deceased,” he tweeted, “It is an indescribable shame!”