Antisemitism, the last fight of Angela Merkel


The chancellor went for the first time as head of government in the former extermination camp. A very symbolic visit as antisemitic acts progress in Germany.

Before returning her apron, Angela Merkel had to go to Auschwitz (Poland). The Chancellor, who is due to retire in 2021, has always worked for Germany’s reconciliation with the Jewish community and the State of Israel. She has already visited the Shoah Memorial in Jerusalem (Yad Vashem) five times and has received numerous awards from international Jewish organizations.

But she had never been to Auschwitz-Birkenau (in present-day Poland), a symbol of the extermination of six million Jews in Europe. All dressed in black, her face serious, she also recognized that it was “anything but easy” to stand in this place because of “the deep shame” that he has in the face of “crimes committed by Germans “. This visit is part of the tradition of other great German heads of government.

After Helmut Schmidt in 1977 and Helmut Kohl in 1989 and 1995, Angela Merkel is the third Chancellor to visit the former Nazi camp. Officially, she came to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the foundation responsible for maintaining this memorial site, a few weeks before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by the Red Army. Berlin announced on this occasion that Germany would pay 60 million euros for the maintenance of the Memorial.

The rise of anti-Semitism worries “Auschwitz was an extermination camp administered by Germans,” she said, recalling that the fight against anti-Semitism, which is reborn today in her country and in Europe, was the case all. “It is important to react and show your refusal,” she urged. The ever-popular Merkel, which plans to leave the chancery in 2021, certainly does not want to pass the baton leaving a country overtaken by its terrible demons. The last challenge in a way, for the one who also wants to be Chancellor of the memory. “

The failed attack in September in Halle (central Germany), perpetrated by a neo-Nazi against a synagogue filled with worshipers, revived worries about the rise of anti-Semitism. Offenses and offenses thus increased by 20% in 2018. On average, a Jew is physically assaulted each week in Germany.

Earlier this year, the German government advised Jews not to systematically wear the yarmulke in public places for safety reasons. A warning that has been interpreted as a capitulation to the extreme right, the first opposition force in the federal assembly (Bundestag) since 2017. “The words favor the passage to the act,” recalls Angela Merkel regularly.

“The AfD has become more radical than the National Gathering” The fascist drift of the AfD (Alternative for Germany), accused of being morally responsible for the attack on Halle, worries the Germans. Especially since the far-right party, which advocates the end of the culture of repentance, sits for two years in the Bundestag. “The AfD has become more radical than the National Rally or the Austrian far-right party, which still has significant moderate forces,” said Markus Linden, a political scientist at the University of Trier.

The identity wing has no more complex to publicly relativize the Holocaust and the responsibility of Germany. The party’s ideologue, Alexander Gauland, no longer hides his sympathies for the revisionists. Nazism? “Cat pee in the thousand years of Germany’s great history,” he says.

By Christophe Bourdoiseau, a correspondent for Berlin (Germany)

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