Willkommen in Deutschland

star-germanyGermany, Germans, Germanic

Did you miss me? I was away on holidays in Germany, unable to blog.

While I was away the European Union published guidelines barring all cooperation with Israeli entities over pre-67 lines. In what was either a spectacular coincidence or spectacular contempt they chose Tisha B’Av, an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of the Jews from the Land of Israel, to make the announcement. To their credit to the Germans, Angela Merkel’s Bundestag spokesman said guidelines are “pure ideology and symbolic politics,” and will not help peace.

This connects me to the blog I promised I would write a month ago on the Oslo Accords, sponsored, among others, by the  Green Party’s Heinrich Böll Stiftung The Greens have aggressively pushed for legislation to label Israeli products and slides illustrating if nothing else the German dissonance to the Jews and Israel.

Now I can show you my holiday snaps. 🙂

Konstantin Basilika

In Mainz, the tourist guide on hearing we were from Israel, made a point of showing us a photograph of the new synagogue. The design was supposed to echo the Hebrew word, Hope (תִקוָה). In Worms, the Jewish connection was part of the tourist trail with every group visiting the Rashi synagogue and the cemetery. Only in Trier’s Konstantin Basilika, once known as the Palatium, was there a detailed reference to the Medieval and the modern. I copied the English language signs. The German posters probably had more detail if I would have been able to read them.

The Medieval Castle Complex

When the Turkish Seljuks conquered Jerusalem in 1070, the West politically exploited this event. The desire to free the Holy Lard proliferated and found great acceptance among the populace. At the synod of Clermont-Ferrand in 1095, Pope Urban II called on the Christian world to wage war against the unbelievers. With this plea, he ushered in the historical chapter of the Crusades, which lasted two hundred years.

Although the Crusades were directed against the Muslims, the Jews were included in the concept of the enemy. In 1096, numerous persecutions occurred in nearly all the larger Jewish communities in Germany and Bohemia: Worms, Mainz, Speyer, Prague, Regensburg, and Trier. lt had all begun with riots in France, which soon reached Germany.

On June 1, 1095, a local saints day and market day, the public mood became heated to such an extent by the Crusaders housing in Trier that they fell upon the Jews.
Archbishop Egilbert yon Ortenburg (1079-1101) preached in vain in favor of the Jews. The Jews fled in fear for their lives into the palatium – where the Archbishop happened to be

A report by the so-called Mainzer Anonymus describer how the water cisterns in the palatium were close€d, because it was feared that Jewish mothers – to avoid a forced baptism – would throw their children into the shaft. Moreover, the ramparts were guarded so that no Jews could throw themselves to their deaths.

For centuries, forced baptism remained an element of the European persecution of the Jews.

The Jews considered the conversion to Christianity effected through forced baptism a profanation of the name of God.
For example, there were always Jews – in Trier as well – who preferred to resist this baptism by committing suicide. This so-called Kiddush ha-Shem represented a self-sacrifice to sanctify the Divine Name.

Altogether at least 2,500 members of Jewish communities in Germany were killed during the First Crusade. Although territorial rulers provided writs of protection and Canon law as well as synod resolutions placed Jewish communities under their protection, they did not prevent further Europe-wide persecutions in the following centuries.

The Protestant Church of the Redeemer
On August 14, 1944, Trier was the target of an immense air raid for the first time in the Second World War. The Trier inner city was set ablaze. The Basilika, too, went up in flames.

In his memoirs, Pastor Georg Cyrus writes that the congregation “perceived the catastrophe as a judgement but also a redemption”. Not without reason: In contrast to other congregations in the Rhineland, the Trier Protestant congregation did not join the anti-Nazi Confessing Church (Bekennende Kirche). Beginning in 1934, congregations aligned themselves in this church to distance themselves in thought and deed from Nazi ideology – and drew the organizational consequences.

Only a small group of members formed a Confessing congregation in Trier. They were refused entry to the Basilika. When in Trier as well the synagogue was desecrated in 1938, it was only the vicar of this small congregation, Klaus Lohmann, who protested and raised his voice in admonition. The pastor and the presbyters remained silent.

And thus the destruction of the Protestant Church of the Redeemer became a symbol: silence, cognizance, indeed active support of Nazi ideology – all that does not stand without retribution. …†

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About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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