BERLIN – A man in military uniform and brandishing a shovel attacked and seriously injured a Jewish student exiting a Hamburg synagogue on Sunday, less than a year after an assault on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle proved fatal.
Security guards and police officers deployed at the Hamburg synagogue, where people were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, quickly subdued and arrested a 29-year-old man, whose name authorities did not disclose. The suspect had a piece of paper with a swastika in his pocket, the German news agency DPA reported.
The 26-year-old victim, who was wearing a kipa, or skullcap, when attacked suffered severe head injuries and was taken to hospital, police said.
Germany has seen the number of anti-Semitic crimes nearly double over the past three years. Last year alone, the government recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, culminating in the attack on the Halle synagogue on 9 October. In that attack, a gunman tried unsuccessfully to forcibly enter during services for Yom Kippur, the holiest day. on the Jewish calendar, and then killed two people elsewhere.
The man arrested in Halle, Stephan Balliet, 28, is currently on trial and has spoken out in court about his hatred not only of Jews but also of Muslims and foreigners, and of being influenced by a far-right attack. versus two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51 people last year.
Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern over the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany, warning in a speech to the Central Council of Jews that it is a reality “that many Jews do not feel safe and respected in our country. “.
“Racism and anti-Semitism have never disappeared, but they have long since become more visible and uninhibited,” said the chancellor, citing the Halle attack as an example of “how quickly words can become deeds.”
In Halle a year ago, the congregation inside the synagogue narrowly escaped a massacre. The synagogue door had been locked and had resisted the awkwardly constructed explosives intended to blow it up. In his anger, the gunman subsequently trained his weapon on other random targets in the city.
After Sunday’s attack, Jewish organizations in Germany and beyond urged the government to increase protection and focus on long-term strategies to eliminate anti-Semitism.
“I am saddened to learn that once again, this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a German Jewish community is facing an act of violent and anti-Semitic terror,” said Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. a declaration. “We have to ask ourselves, and the German local and national authorities have to answer the question: why does this keep happening? Why does anti-Semitism thrive? “
“The German government must take responsibility for strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never permissible,” added Mr. Lauder. “The long-term vitality of Jewish life in Germany depends on it.”