German President Joachim Gauck Marvels at Return of Jews

Backs Revival of Jewish Life 70 Years After Shoah

Welcome Home: German President Joachim Gauck cheered the revival of Jewish life in the country.
getty images
Welcome Home: German President Joachim Gauck cheered the revival of Jewish life in the country.

Published November 24, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

German President Joachim Gauck in an address to a Jewish community conference in Berlin marveled at the fact that Jews want to live in his country.

Gauck’s appearance Sunday was the first time a German president attended the annual conference hosted by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the main umbrella organization representing some 105,000 official members of Jewish communities throughout the country.

Speaking to some 600 community members and guests at Berlin’s Intercontinental Hotel, Gauck also defended his decision to sign the Prague Declaration in 2008, which called the Nazi and Communist regimes twin disasters of the 20th century.

“We should avoid competition between victims,” Gauck said, noting that as a German he felt a special responsibility to warn against genocides.

Called “One People, One Community,” the three-day conference drew rabbis, communal leaders, representatives of Jewish NGOs and community members for workshops, meetings, Sabbath services and a gala party.

Gauck, who grew up in the former East Germany, said he had never imagined as a young man that Jews would want to live in Germany again.

Meeting later with six young Jewish professionals, Gauck asked them how their families had come to the country and how they felt about living in Germany.

“All of us answered that the decision to come to Germany of all places was difficult, particularly for the first generation,” Roy Naor, 27, told JTA. “But now with the third generation, it is a different story.”

Naor, a fledgling attorney who was recently elected to the board of the Jewish community of Hamburg, said he was moved by Gauck’s response.

“He said that often grandparents did not talk to their own children about their issues, but that grandchildren can now ask the questions … with a different sense of self confidence,” Naor said. “He said, ‘Maybe we see it as our mission.’ ”

Though some in the audience bristled at Gauck’s remarks on genocide, Naor did not think the president had tried to establish a moral equivalency between tragedies. Rather, the message was “don’t sit back and think that something like this won’t happen again.”

At the council assembly meeting on Sunday, Graumann said one of his top agenda items was how to ensure that survivors of Nazi-era ghettos receive the pensions promised to them by the German government.

“There are 21,500 survivors who are at least 85 years old who are eligible,” he said, adding that he hoped the government was not just waiting for them to die.

Gauck also reiterated his support for Israel and his commitment to Jewish life in Germany.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.