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Yad Vashem Responds to Poll in Germany Revealing Growing Antisemitism and Desire to Marginalize the Holocaust

Recommended Action: Increased Education and Awareness

(November 20, 2003 - Jerusalem) Yad Vashem is deeply disturbed by the results of a survey conducted by one of Germany’s leading magazines, Stern, that indicated that 23% of Germans have antisemitic attitudes. This is a rise of 3% since a similar survey was conducted in 1998. 28% of respondents said Jews have too much influence in the world, while 61% felt that nearly six decades after the Holocaust, it is time to marginalize discussion of the persecution of the Jews.

Germany has been at the forefront of educating its young people about the Holocaust, and influential German figures have taken clear stands against expressions of antisemitism. Despite these important efforts, anti-Jewish attitudes are on the rise in Germany, according to the survey in Stern.

Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev said “the results of the poll in Stern shed light on the latent antisemitism which is, unfortunately, still extant in Germany. This antisemitism, which apparently simmered quietly under the surface of European and German society after the Holocaust, is now beginning to boil up into view again. An additional factor is the antisemitism being promoted by extremist Islamic groups operating in Europe and abroad. These phenomena pose a very real danger to the democratic societies of Germany in particular and Europe as a whole.”

Shalev added, “it is particularly troubling that such a high percentage of Germans want to de-emphasize the Holocaust, at a time when its ramifications are more relevant to Germany - and the rest of the world - than at any other time since the end of World War II.”

Shalev concluded, “Yad Vashem calls on the German educational and communications authorities and communal and lay leadership to redouble their efforts to combat these trends through even greater educational and informational initiatives. As the world’s foremost center for information about the Holocaust and its repercussions, Yad Vashem stands ready to increase its involvement in the field of education. Yad Vashem also offers its services as a resource for the media, in order to contribute to balanced reporting of issues that are liable to fan the flames of antisemitism.”