German antisemitism monitor highlights growing abuse of Holocaust

Government watchdog documented hundreds of antisemitic incidents between 2019 and 2022 that invoked the Holocaust as a means of insulting or demeaning Jews.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Abuse of the Holocaust forms an increasingly significant element of antisemitic abuse in the southern German state of Bavaria, according to a new report published on Wednesday.

The report from the Munich office of RIAS, a nationwide antisemitism monitoring organization, documented hundreds of antisemitic incidents between 2019 and 2022 that invoked the Holocaust as a means of insulting or demeaning Jews.

One of the examples cited occurred in August, when a security guard described as being “of Arab descent” proffered a Nazi salute at a group of Israeli athletes who were paying tribute at the site of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli team competing at the Munich Olympics that year. In a subsequent Twitter posting, Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, connected that incident with a speech delivered in the same week by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Israel of carrying out “50 Holocausts” at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

According to the RIAS report — “Multidirectional Attacks on Memory – Post-Shoah Antisemitism in Bavaria” — since 2019, out of more than 1,000 antisemitic outrages in Bavaria, there were three physical assaults, 35 instances of property damage and 437 cases of insulting behavior that mentioned the Holocaust. The report also recorded 183 public events where the Holocaust was demeaned or relativized in chants and slogans and on posters.

Many of the Holocaust-related antisemitic incidents manifested in protests against Israel, particularly during the May 2021 war in Gaza, and against the social distancing and masking measures mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw large numbers of protestors donning the “Judenstern” — the “Jews’ Star” which the Nazis compelled Jews to wear on their outer clothing — as a protest against their perceived lesser status. In June 2020, the city of Munich went as far as to ban the display of the “Judenstern” at the pandemic protests.

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“In the context of the corona pandemic, but also of the Russian war of aggression [in Ukraine], we are increasingly seeing the Holocaust being relativized at meetings in Munich and an increasing rejection of memories of the Shoah,” said Miriam Heigl, head of the city of Munich’s Department for Democracy, a municipal agency which focuses on German civil society.

German politicians also voiced anxiety at the reports findings.

“The current RIAS report shows that we must not relax in denouncing and fighting antisemitism,” said Florian Ritter, the parliamentary spokesperson for the opposition center-left SPD Party.

“I find it particularly bad that the Shoah itself is often used as a reason for blind hatred of Jewish people,” Ritter continued. “This is deeply inhuman and reinterprets victims as perpetrators. The SPD vehemently opposes such an attitude.”