A Jewish student suffered severe head injuries Sunday, October 4, outside a synagogue in Hamburg. The 26-year-old was about to enter when he was hit with a shovel by an individual dressed in military uniform. Arrested by the police charged with protecting the building, the assailant, a 29-year-old German of Kazakh origin, had a swastika in his trouser pocket. On Sunday evening, however, many questions remained unanswered about his identity and why he was in Hamburg, while he lives in Berlin. “He is extremely confused and very difficult to question”, a police spokeswoman said late in the evening.
Committed during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, this attack comes almost a year to the day after the attack on the synagogue in Halle (Saxony-Anhalt). On October 9, 2019, a 27-year-old German, Stephan Balliet, also dressed as a soldier, tried to enter the building, which is very busy on Yom Kippur. Unsuccessful, he shot at random at a passerby, shot a man in a Turkish restaurant, then fled in a car before being arrested by police. His trial opened on July 21.
“Jewish life must be better protected in this country”
“It is unbearable to see that hatred and violence against Jews continue to rage in German streets, and this precisely during a Jewish holiday and a year after the terrible attack in Halle”, reacted the president of the German Conference of Orthodox Rabbis (ORD). “Jewish life must be better protected in this country”, he added.
According to a survey published on Tuesday September 22 by the Mediendienst Integration collective, a network of experts and independent journalists working on immigration and integration in Germany, “The protection of Jewish community places by the police has increased in almost all the Länder since the attack in Halle.” For 2020, more than 20 million euros have been allocated by the federal state to improve the security of synagogues, cemeteries and Jewish community centers. But by the authorities themselves, the realization of this policy is too slow, in particular because of bureaucratic delays. “As the police, we cannot be satisfied with the ‘status quo’ we are witnessing”, thus recognized the vice-president of the Federal Office of Criminal Police (BKA), on September 22, after the presentation of the collective investigation.
“It is an ignominy and it makes me ashamed to see how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country at the moment”, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor
In May, the BKA’s annual report on “politically motivated crime” indicated that 2,032 crimes and offenses of an anti-Semitic nature had been recorded in Germany in 2019, an increase of 13% compared to 2018. Among them, 1 838, an overwhelming majority, were committed by extreme right-wing individuals. This increase in the number of anti-Semitic acts is part of a more general trend, with the number of politically motivated crimes increasing by 14% between 2018 and 2019.
” It is a disgrace and it makes me ashamed to see how racism and anti-Semitism are expressed in our country at the moment “, Angela Merkel said on September 15, on the occasion of the 70e anniversary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “It is true that racism and anti-Semitism have never disappeared. But for some time now, they are more visible and more uninhibited. Insults, threats or conspiracy theories are openly directed at Jewish citizens on social media. We must never be silent in the face of this ”, explained the German Chancellor.