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January 7, 2022 12:15 pm

Jewish Community in Munich Unnerved by Recent Antisemitic Incidents, Leaders Say

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avatar by Algemeiner Staff

A placard held by a counter-demonstrator at a coronavirus protest in Munich, Germany, reads “No Place for Nazis.” Photo: Reuters/Alexander Pohl/Sipa USA.

Two antisemitic incidents this week in the German city of Munich have alarmed Jewish leaders and local politicians, leading to calls from one senior official for the public to show greater “vigilance.”

On Wednesday morning, construction workers building a new Jewish elderly care home in the city’s upscale Bogenhausen district arrived at the building site to find it vandalized with swastikas and other Nazi and white supremacist symbols. A police spokesperson told local media outlets that because the building site did not contain any visual indications of a connection to the Jewish community, the vandals would have been independently aware of this fact. Their likely intention was “to leave a threat for the future residents with the graffiti,” the spokesperson said.

Later on Wednesday evening, a 41-year-old man was arrested in the immediate aftermath of a demonstration against the German government’s COVID-19 policies. The man was said to have been part of a group of 20 people who were headed in the direction of Munich’s Jewish Community Center.

According to the Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper, eyewitnesses identified one of the group as Karl-Heinz Statzberger, a convicted neo-Nazi terrorist who served a four-year prison sentence for his part in planning an attempted bombing of the Jewish Community Center in 2003. Statzberger is now reported to be active in the Bavaria branch of “The Third Way,” a neo-Nazi organization which has been pushed its message at demonstrations and rallies against the pandemic public health measures. “We distribute leaflets and are simply part of the huge flow,” one of the group’s supporters wrote in a social media post this week. “We’ll be there, regardless of whether it suits everyone or not. The resistance is growing! Expect us!”

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Both incidents have boosted anxiety within Munich’s Jewish community. “Every incident of this kind increases the insecurity within the Jewish community even further,” the veteran head of the community, Charlotte Knobloch, told SZ.

Ludwig Spaenle, the state official in Bavaria tasked with combating antisemitism, told broadcaster BR24 that the incidents underlined the need for a “high level of vigilance” in society at large.

Addressing the protestors who attend the COVID-19 rallies directly, Spaenle encouraged them to distance themselves from the far right. “You have to know who you are taking to the streets with,” he said.

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