‘I Had to Face a Whole Clique Every Day’: Berlin Jewish High School Students Tell German Justice Minister of Rampant Antisemitic Bullying
Germany’s justice minister visited a Jewish school in Berlin on Tuesday where she met with students driven out of the city’s public education system by antisemitic bullying.
According to a report in the German news outlet Bild, the minister, Christine Lambrecht, was “horrified” by the stories she heard from the students, who now attend the Gymnasium Moses Mendelssohn. Reopened in 1993 as the city’s Jewish high school, its building had served during the Nazi era as a deportation center for Berlin’s Jews.
One student, who gave her name as Emily, told Lambrecht, “I didn’t say at my old school that I was Jewish, I didn’t wear my Star of David.” She explained that the “aggressive hatred” she faced at the school had compelled her to hide her identity.
When Lambrecht expressed outrage at Emily’s treatment, arguing that it was the perpetrators who should be forced to leave a school rather than their victims, the 17-year-old replied, “That would have been difficult. It wasn’t just one person, it was a whole clique that I had to face every day.”
Another student, David, told Lambrecht: “If I forget to remove my kippah when I’m outside, I receive stupid insults.”
Continued the 17-year-old: “It’s hard for me to come out as Jew.”
Nineteen-year-old Rafet told Lambrecht of a personal connection to the attempted massacre on Oct. 9 of worshipers attending Yom Kippur services at a synagogue in Halle. The gunman, a neo-Nazi, murdered two people outside the synagogue after failing to break through the building’s security doors.
“A friend of mine was in that synagogue — if those doors hadn’t held, he would have been dead,” Rafet said.
Lambrecht said after her visit that her goal was to reverse the trend of German public schools serving as a “breeding ground” for antisemitism.
Antisemitic acts in Germany have risen precipitously over the last five years, overwhelmingly committed by far-right activists or Muslim extremists.
A World Jewish Congress (WJC) survey published last week revealed that more than one in four Germans expressed agreement with a range of statements that were based upon classic antisemitic tropes.