German Police Investigate Elite College Fraternity Over Alleged Antisemitic Assault on Jewish Student
A student fraternity party at Germany’s oldest university was the occasion for an antisemitic verbal and physical assault on a Jewish guest, German state prosecutors alleged on Tuesday.
The announcement followed a complaint filed with the police by the victim, a 25-year-old Jewish student.
The student said that when his Jewish ancestry came up during the party hosted by the Burschenschaft Normannia fraternity at Germany’s elite Heidelberg University on Aug. 29, he was regaled with antisemitic insults, and several guests pelted him with coins and whipped him on his legs and back using belts.
Police and prosecutors were now trying to ascertain whether the incident had underlying antisemitic motives or was part of a fraternity ritual known as “belting,” German broadcaster DW reported.
“We are taking this case very seriously and have devoted a lot of personnel to finding out what happened since first hearing about it,” Christopher Weselek of the Mannheim Police Department told DW.
Authorities said police secured a large amount of evidence from the fraternity house after the event.
DW noted in its report that “German and Austrian fraternities, called Burschenschaften, are known for their nationalist leanings. Observers say the Heidelberg chapter of Normannia is on the far right of the political spectrum.”
Independently, the national website of Normannia announced that it had suspended its chapter at Heidelberg and would not tolerate antisemitism in its ranks.
“The Normannia fraternity will cooperate fully with the authorities, whose investigations are not directed against the Normannia fraternity but against individual persons,” the fraternity stated. “If the allegations against any of its members are substantiated, the Normannia fraternity will also draw appropriate conclusions internally. Antisemitism and violent attacks are incompatible with the fraternity idea.”