Synagogue Smeared With Hate Slogans on Eve of Jewish Leader’s Visit
BERLIN (AP) _ Vandals painted Nazi slogans and swastikas on a synagogue and other buildings in the Bavarian city of Ansbach hours before a visit by the head of Germany’s Jewish community Tuesday.
″Damned Jews. Heil Hitler″ was painted overnight in black letters on the walls of the city’s synagogue, a garage near the Jewish cemetery, a church meeting hall and a school, police spokesman Toni Spreiter said.
He said the slogans were three feet high and 26 feet wide. ″We’ve had it before but never has the lettering been so big,″ he said.
Extremists have vandalized Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in dozens of German cities since reunification in October 1990, but it appeared the first time someone painted hate slogans to confront Ignatz Bubis, head of the Central Council Jews in Germany.
Bubis was en route Tuesday to Ansbach, a city of 40,000 people near Nuremburg, and could not be reached for comment. He was invited by local officials of the Free Democratic Party.
German authorities say violent incidents by extreme rightists have decreased the past year. But hate crimes are still reported almost daily and Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said Tuesday he still considered their frequency alarming.
Kanther said rightist extremist and anti-foreigner incidents fell 36 percent last year, to 1,609 cases from 2,544 in 1992. But there was no drop in the number of casualties - six dead and 900 injured, Kanther said in Bonn.
Earlier Tuesday, Bubis was at a colloquium in Bonn to discuss a survey by the American Jewish Committee that said 22 percent of Germans in a poll said they would prefer not to have a Jew as a neighbor.
Bubis did not find the figure particularly alarming. Anti-Semitism is not on the rise in Germany, but inhibitions people once felt in expressing it are falling away, he said.
David Singer, the committee’s research director, said the German figure compared with past surveys by his group which found that 40 percent of Poles did not want a Jew as a neighbor, as opposed to about 8 percent of Americans.