German idea to fight anti-Semitism: make immigrants tour concentration camps

Brandeis University News

“More than any other country, Germany has faced up to the crimes of its past in an honest and straightforward way, and has made it clear at the highest levels of government that the memory of the Holocaust must never be forgotten or diminished,” Mr. Lauder said.The idea of requiring new arrivals to visit concentration camps was not universally endorsed. Some scholars of German history described it as a simplistic answer to a more complicated and insidious problem. Many acts of anti-Semitism in Germany, they emphasized, are not by immigrants.“You don’t stop someone from being a racist or xenophobe by taking them to a concentration camp,” said Sabine von Mering, the director of the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. “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.”Ms. Chebli, who suggested the required visits in an interview published Sunday in the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, was not immediately available for comment. Nor was it clear whether the German government would move to make such visits mandatory for immigrants, who are currently offered courses on German language, culture and history.But the suggestion reflected a growing concern that Germany’s absorption in recent years of more than a million immigrants, many fleeing war and mayhem in the Middle East and Africa, had inadvertently created potential incubators of anti-Semitism in the country most saddled with the legacy of Nazis and the Holocaust, which killed about six million Jews.Sensitivities about the Nazi past are extremely strong in Germany, one of Israel’s strongest supporters. German law includes strict prohibitions on Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial.

Government authorities have sought to make Germany a safe place for Jews, who number about 200,000 in the country. Despite the …

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