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Germany: Hundreds march in solidarity after synagogue attack

April 7, 2024

Hundreds of Oldenburg residents turned out in support of the Jewish community Sunday after an arson attack at a local synagogue. Jewish representatives thanked neighbors for their support.

People holding up the flag of Israel and a banner saying they are against antisemitism
Oldenburg residents came out to show support for the Jewish community after an antisemitic attackImage: Fabian Steffens/Eibner/IMAGO

Several hundred residents in the northern German city of Oldenburg took to the streets to participate in a solidarity demonstration in support of their Jewish neighbors in the wake of an arson attack on a local synagogue on Friday.

Police estimated that more than 500 people turned out on Sunday, with organizers putting the number closer to 700.

Claire Schaub-Moore, chairwoman of the Jewish community group in Oldenburg, thanked those gathered for their support.

"We are deeply impressed by this solidarity. We feel this strength and it is much greater than what happened on our doorstep, on the doorstep of the synagogue," she said.

Attack seen as 'attempted murder, terror'

Speaking to the crowd gathered near the site of the attack, Mayor Jürgen Krogmann called Friday's incident "nothing other than attempted murder, terror."

An investigation into the incident — in which an unknown perpetrator hurled a Molotov cocktail against the door of the synagogue — has been started by the Criminal Office in that state of Lower Saxony.

No one was injured in the attack. Caretakers from a neighboring cultural center were able to quickly extinguish the fire, which damaged the door to the place of worship.

Following the attack, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser took to X to decry the act as a "disgusting, inhumane attack on Oldenburg's Jewish men and women."

The leader of Lower Saxony's parliament, Hanna Naber, an Oldenburg resident herself, told demonstrators: "We are renewing the promise with which the German Federal Republic was founded: Never again!

"We have to be loud — for our diversity, for liberal democracy and against hate and incitement," she added.

'We will not be intimidated'

"We will not be intimidated. Jewish life belongs to our country, to Germany. Those who refuse to accept that fact must bear all legal consequences for their actions," Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote on his organization's website.

Speaking with Germany's Protestant Press Service, Michael Fürst, president of the State Association of Jewish Communities in Lower Saxony, offered a more ominous warning. Fürst pointed to the danger of simply repeating empty phrases claiming antisemitism has no place in Germany when it is clearly accepted, even furthered, by some at the heart of German society.

"We cannot look into a crystal ball, but it's a short step from throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Jewish institution to shooting Jewish congregants during a religious service," he said.

Germany's Jews and antisemitism: A complex reality

js/kb (dpa, epd)

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Oldenburg Mayor Jürgen Krogmann. DW apologizes for the error.