75 years after the end of the Second World War, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has expressed doubt that the Germans have learned sufficient lessons from the past. In an interview with the newspaper "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung" (NOZ), Schuster said that those who had governmental responsibility in Germany were aware of the ongoing responsibility from the Nazi era.
"However, if we interpret Germany as a state with all its inhabitants and ask ourselves whether they have also understood this and learned from history, I must say that I was never convinced of this and certainly am not in this day and age," said the Central Council President.
Schuster expressed his concern that a certain degree of anti-Semitism seems to be a lasting fact. On top of that, there is a dangerous oblivion of history. "It cannot be denied, especially among younger people. For them, the Second World War is as far away in their minds as the Empire; there is no longer a current reference to it. If about half of the young people do not know the term 'Auschwitz', something goes wrong", he lamented. Nevertheless, Schuster told the "NOZ" that it is possible to live well in Germany today - "even as a Jew". Many Jews were also standing to their roots outside of community life and enriching the country. "I am delighted when people like Marina Weisband or Oliver Polak play an important and self-evident role in politics and culture," said Schuster, referring to Jewish life in Germany today.
After the capitulation of the German Reich on May 8, 1945, hundreds of thousands of Jews were still living in Germany, many as liberated inmates from the concentration camps. The number of Jewish community members then quickly dropped to a low of about 30,000 in the 1980s, before many Jews came to Germany as refugees from the Soviet Union. Schuster put the number of current parishioners at around 100,000. "At the moment we see an annual decline of 700 to 800. The demographic structure is not ideal."
Schuster advocated strengthening anti-Semitism research in Germany. Among other things, he said, teachers should be given better tools. "Ask a teacher what he would do if a student called someone else a Jew in the schoolyard. If teachers are honest, many won't know what to do." pm, ots, mei