Youth Racism a Concern in Germany
The Jewish High School in Germany’s Mitte district is an imposing building. Not only is it surrounded by a fence several meters high, but video cameras also keep watch, and policemen are posted at the front—all to repel anti-Semitic attacks.
“I always thought Jews were integrated in German society,” said school director Barbara Wittig. “I would never have thought it possible for anti-Semitism to express itself as virulently as it has recently” (Spiegel Online, Dec. 8, 2006).
A state department study on violence at Berlin’s schools showed a dramatic uptick in extremist crimes. During the 2004-05 school year, 62 incidents of “right-wing extremism” were logged, up from 39 the previous year.
One 14-year-old Jewish girl suffered from months of anti-Semitic insults, including being spat upon and beaten by a group of adolescents. In another example, one student blurted out, “All Jews must be gassed.” In another case, a group of youths locked a student in the chemistry lab and taunted, “Now we’ll turn on the gas.” Another 16-year-old was forced to march around the schoolyard with a sign reading, “In this town I’m the biggest swine because of the Jewish friends of mine.” Such treatment is reminiscent of Nazi-era practices, where Jews were treated as inhuman and German friends of Jews were belittled.
The Berlin Jewish community warns that this behavior represents “a new dimension in anti-Semitism.”
Racism has continually reared its ugly head across all levels of German society. While German youth commit such acts, German extreme-right-wing parties gain political ground. Efforts to eradicate this pestilence from elements of the German public after the Second World War have not succeeded. Racism in Germany is still a major problem we must watch.