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Germany sees spike in anti-Semitic crimes — reports

February 11, 2021

The Central Council of Jews in Germany blames coronavirus conspiracy theorists for the recent rise in anti-Semitic hate crime.

Police standing in front of a Synagogue in Berlin
Anti-Semitic attacks and hate crime have been increasing in recent years, including the deadly attack outside a Synagogue in Halle in 2019Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Tantussi

The number of registered anti-Semitic hate crimes in Germany hit a new upward trend in 2020, according to figures released by the German government and seen on Thursday by the Tagesspiegel newspaper and the Evangelische Pressedienst news agency.

The authorities have logged at least 2,275 crimes with an anti-Semitic background until the end of January 2021. Some 55 of those were acts of violence.

Only five suspects were detained by the authorities, despite police  investigating 1,367 cases- No arrest warrants have been issued. 

This is the highest number of anti-Semitic hate crimes since German police started collecting data on "politically motivated criminality" in 2001. The preliminary numbers were released upon the request of Left party member and Bundestag Vice-President Petra Pau. The tally could rise further as various states give updates on their crime statistics.

The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in Germany has been steadily growing from 1,799 recorded in 2018, to 2,032 in 2019.

How did the Jewish community react?

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, saw the root of the problem in the spread of conspiracy theories and coronavirus skepticism.

"In view of the numerous anti-Semitic incidents at the coronavirus-denier protests last year and the conspiracy myths online, it was, unfortunately, to be expected that the number of anti-Semitic crimes would rise again," he told the Tagesspiegel.

Schuster said that the spike in hate crime showed that "the radicalization of society is progressing and respect for minorities is declining."

He called for the anti-Semitic developments to be stopped "especially in the upcoming elections."

Germany must 'stand together' against anti-Semitism

The federal government's Anti-Semitism Commissioner Felix Klein told the paper that the new figures "must be a warning to us."

The increase in criminal acts is "a clear sign that democracy must show itself to be defensible, especially in crises like the ongoing pandemic."

The commissioner said that social cohesion "is measured, especially here in Germany, by how firmly we stand together against hatred of Jews."

According to the data collated by the German police, the vast majority of anti-Semitic hate crimes came from the far-right. Cases involving Islamists, left-wingers and others were just a small minority.

ab/dj (EPD, KNA)