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Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Image: Frank Franklin II/AP Photo/picture alliance
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German president receives Jewish reconciliation prize

November 19, 2021

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier used his acceptance speech in New York to warn his fellow Germans to be vigilant in the face of rising antisemitism.

https://p.dw.com/p/43D8n

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in New York on Thursday to accept the Leo-Baeck-Medal. The prize is awarded by the Leo Baeck Institute each year to individuals who make significant efforts for German-Jewish reconcilliation. 

In his acceptance speech, Steinmeier stressed that "we mustn't tolerate any antisemitism in Germany."  

"Only when Jewish people are completely at home and feel completely safe in Germany," is the country done with the work of defeating antisemitism, the president said.

Reconciliation is 'an infinitely precious gift' 

Steinmeier hailed the "miracle" of reconciliation and forgiveness after the Second World War, but added that it was "not a miracle from heaven, but a gift from people."

"For me, for us Germans, reconciliation is an infinitely precious gift," he said. "But it remains fragile," and is tested every day.

Steinmeier called on his fellow Germans to remain vigilant: "The evil of antisemitism has shown itself to be much more overt again in recent years."

Leo Baeck was a rabbi and leader of Reform Judaism who was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II, having declined offers to escape Nazi Germany. After the war he emigrated to London and served as chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

es/wd (AFP, epd)

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