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German Jews Elect New Vice President

Sixty-year-old intellectual Salomon Korn was elected vice president of Germany's top Jewish organization, replacing his disgraced predecessor.


Second chances: This time, Korn took the job.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany unanimously voted Salomon Korn vice president on Sunday. He will replace high-profile media personality and talk-show host Michel Friedman, who resigned from the post amid drug and prostitution scandals in July.

Korn said he was "moved" by the vote. He announced that the Central Council's aims would not change with his election but that the focus would shift. He said he would devote special attention to the integration of immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Korn had been considered to take over the presidency of the council following the death of its prior president, Ignatz Bubis, in 1999, but he turned the position down. This time, Korn said, he felt he could not turn down Central Council President Paul Spiegel's request that he accept the position.

Born in 1943 in Lublin, Poland, Korn and his parents came to Frankfurt after World War II. He studied architecture and sociology in Berlin and Darmstadt and later worked as an architect in Frankfurt.

On the way to normality

Korn is widely viewed as a level-headed intellectual.

He became active in public debates in the 1980s and 90s and created a name for himself as a journalist. He is best known for having been an avid supporter of the idea of a central Holocaust memorial in Germany.

In 1986 he inaugurated the new Jewish community center building he designed with the much-quoted words: "He who builds a house wants to stay."

The married father of three took over Ignatz Bubis’ position as chairman of the Frankfurt Jewish community in November 1999.

From an "in-between generation"

Korn has described himself as a member of the "in-between generation" of Jews who did not personally experience the Holocaust. He has called himself a traditionalist and said he is politically liberal.

While Korn regards as important the accord giving Judaism the same formal status as Christian churches, which was signed at the beginning of the year between the Jewish Council and the German government, he sees it merely as a further step towards German-Jewish "normality." Normality between Jews and non-Jews would take the recognition of differences for granted, Korn has said.

Anti-Semitism on a European level

Korn warned against anti-Semitism in Germany, in an interview in the Die Welt newspaper on Monday. Around one-fifth of Germans were anti-Semitic, which corresponded roughly with the European average, he said. But Korn stressed that anti-Semitism in Germany today could not be compared with the situation in 1945. "Only small circles of neo-Nazis… support a nationalist-racist anti-Semitism that wants to 'exterminate' the Jews," he said

Michael Friedman

Michael Friedman

The vote for a new representative came about after the former vice president, Michel Friedman (photo), resigned from his public positions in July amid charges of cocaine use and a scandal involving Ukrainian prostitutes. Friedman was ordered to pay a fine of €17,400 ($20,000) after being convicted on ten charges of possession of cocaine for personal use.

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