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Merkel: 'Zero tolerance' of anti-Semitism in Germany

January 26, 2019

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on all citizens to play a part in stamping out anti-Semitism and racism. The chancellor made the plea in her weekly video address ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Angela Merkel in Yad Vashem
Merkel visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem in 2018Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Hill

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that it was every individual's responsibility to show "zero tolerance" of xenophobia and all forms of anti-Semitism.

"People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated," Merkel said in her weekly video address on Saturday ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Between 1933 and 1945, millions of people across Europe, including an estimated 6 million Jews, were murdered and persecuted by the Nazis.

Read moreHolocaust Remembrance Day: It's not about guilt, but about responsibility

Rising hatred

The German chancellor warned that racism was still very much alive in society today, with "a very different kind of anti-Semitism" emerging among Germans, as well as Muslim migrants.

The recent rise in attacks against Jews prompted the government last year to appoint a commissioner against anti-Semitism and to set up a national registration office to document anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Charlotte Knobloch, a former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Passauer Neue Presse on Saturday that hatred against Jews in Germany was increasing, with many facing a "pogrom atmosphere" on social media.

"We have to nip this in the bud," she said, urging social and political institutions to stage an "outcry" against shows of anti-Semitism.

Read moreHolocaust Remembrance Day: Places of memory and mourning

Rent-a-Jew: Do you know your 'kippah' from your 'tallit'?

The director of the memorial at Buchenwald, the largest Nazi concentration camp on German soil, this week barred the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party from attending a commemoration for the 56,000 people killed there during the Holocaust.

Memorial director Volkhard Knigge said the decision was a response to anti-democratic, racist and anti-Semitic tendencies in the party.

Telling victims' stories

In her speech, Merkel also said it was important to find new ways for younger generations to commemorate Holocaust victims. 

"It will be crucial in the coming time to find new ways of remembrance," she said. "We must look more closely at the personalities of people who were victims back then, and to tell their stories."

Read moreGerman teacher fights schoolyard anti-Semitism

International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the liberation of Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland by the Soviet Army on January 27, 1945.

nm/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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