German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier “Only when Jews are entirely safe, entirely at home here, can Germany be said to have entirely come into its own.”
Interview with the German President on the ongoing #2021JLID Year of Celebration
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sat for an interview with “321-2021:1700 Jahre jüdisches Leben in Deutschland e.V.” to discuss the ongoing #2021JLID Year of Celebration. The society is incredibly pleased with the President’s remarks and extends its thanks for his valuable support.
#2021JLID: What does the #2021JLID – Jewish Life in Germany Year of Celebration mean to you?
President Steinmeier: I am truly looking forward to it. For more than 1700 years, Jews have been living along the Danube and Rhine rivers – that is an impressive length of time that indicates how long-standing, deep and inseparable the ties are between Jewish culture and the history of Central Europe and Germany. Jews are a part of Germany, they have helped shape German history and culture, before and after the collapse of civilization with the Shoah; they have influenced and enriched German society.
That is what we are celebrating in this Year of Celebration, hopefully drawing more attention to the fact that Jewish life is a part of German society – and has been for a millennium and a half. And this does not relate to the past only. The Year of Celebration increases our awareness of the here and now, of contemporary Jewish life in all its diversity and with its enormous momentum.
#2021JLID: What is especially important to you?
President Steinmeier: A lively society of peaceful coexistence demands that the people in our country, Jews and non-Jews alike, are willing to compromise, to exchange, and get to know each other. But that has become more difficult in recent years. Antisemitism, xenophobia, nationalism, religiously motivated extremism, and racism have grown more blatant – both online and offline. It is the same old spirit of hatred dressed up in a new guise. If you have to worry about being attacked in the middle of the street, it is hard to muster the trust that is required to compromise, to open oneself and feel at home.
However, only when Jews are entirely safe, entirely at home here, can Germany be said to have entirely come into its own. The number of people who rise up visibly and audibly against antisemitism, who fight antisemitism in the media, on the floor of the Bundestag, in schools and youth centers, in offices, at home, and on the street – their numbers must grow. No one should simply turn away!
#2021JLID: What legacy do you hope the Year of Celebration leaves behind? What do you hope for future of Jewish life in Germany?
President Steinmeier: I am deeply grateful that Jewish life has again begun to flourish in Germany. I hope that our awareness of this Jewish life deepens so that we appreciate it for what it is: a multifaceted, individual, and, yes, even a commonplace part of the everyday in our diverse German society.
But this also means Jewish culture and the Jewish faith must be free to flourish and develop in safety. It is the task of the state, but also the responsibility of German society at large, to ensure that. And if I might voice another hope of mine: I hope more Jewish Germans enter politics.
For more information about the Year of Celebration, visit our homepage at www.2021JLID.de – and check out our social media channels.
Head of Press and PR
321– 2021: 1700 Jahre jüdisches Leben in Deutschland e.V.
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