- 11 Jan 18
The proposal is believed to help tackle hateful attitudes among new arrivals in the country.
Alarmed by a projection of anti-Semitism among new immigrants arriving to Germany, a German politician has suggested they undertake a mandatory visit to Nazi concentration camp memorials.
The idea was thought out by Sawsan Chebli, a Berlin state legislator of Palestinian heritage. Further backing was given on Wednesday when the leaders of Germany’s Central Council of Jews and the far larger World Jewish Congress agreed with her.
“People who have fled to us, who have themselves had to escape or been expelled, can develop empathy in such memorials,” the council’s President, Josef Schuster, told Deutschlandfunk radio.
Ronald S. Lauder, president of The World Jewish Congress, (a leading advocacy organisation that represents Jewish communities in 100 countries) was also prone to the idea.
“This proposal is an encouraging and effective method of educating people of all backgrounds about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the entire Jewish population of Europe and the dangers such hatred can yield,” he said.
The newly devised concept was not, however, endorsed by all. Some German history academics believed the idea was a simplistic answer to a more complex and stealthy problem.
“You don’t stop someone from being a racist or xenophobe by taking them to a concentration camp,” said Sabine von Mering, director of the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. “I don’t think that making it a requirement is somehow going to magically solve this problem. It requires a lot more attention and education.”
It was unclear whether the German government would implement such visits for immigrants. Currently, those are being offered courses on German language, culture and history.
The proposal reflects a growing concern that Germany’s absorption in recent years of more than one million immigrants has unwittingly created potential harbourers of anti-Semitism.