Starting where Nazis burned books, 10,000 march in Berlin against anti-Semitism
search
Rally begins at Bebelplatz, scene of Nazis' 1933 bookburning

Starting where Nazis burned books, 10,000 march in Berlin against anti-Semitism

Thousands more rally elsewhere in Germany four days after neo-Nazi attempted to massacre Jews in Halle on Yom Kippur, failed to enter synagogue, killed 2 bystanders

  • Thousands protest on October 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a gunman attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)
    Thousands protest on October 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a gunman attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)
  • Thousands of people protest on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)
    Thousands of people protest on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)
  • A woman with an Israeli flag protests with thousands of people on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)
    A woman with an Israeli flag protests with thousands of people on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)
  • Bebelplatz, Berlin book burnings, 1933 (Bundesarchiv / Georg Pahl)
    Bebelplatz, Berlin book burnings, 1933 (Bundesarchiv / Georg Pahl)

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of people in Berlin protested against anti-Semitism on Sunday, four days after a German neo-Nazi attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.

About 10,000 people participated in the march through the German capital.

Several thousand others protested Saturday in other cities, including Hamburg and Marburg.

Many Germans are in shock over Wednesday’s attack in which two people were killed outside the synagogue and in a kebab shop.

The attack has renewed concerns about rising far-right extremism and questions about the slow police response.

A woman with an Israeli flag protests with thousands of people on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

Stephan Balliet, the 27-year-old, heavily armed man who has confessed to the attack, tried but failed to enter the synagogue on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day. Balliet, who livestreamed his attack online, has been charged with two counts of murder and nine of attempted murder.

Thousands of people protest on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

On Sunday, people started their march at a symbolic landmark, Berlin’s Bebelplatz square, where the Nazis burnt thousands of books by Jews, Communist and other opponents, weeks after Adolf Hitler took power in 1933.

Stephan Balliet (Screengrab)

The marchers carried Israeli flags and banners with slogans like “No Nazis” or “Far-right terror threatens our society.”

The rally was organized by the civil rights group Unteilbar, or “Indivisible,” under the slogan “We stand united” and ended at the city’s New Synagogue with its famous golden dome topped by a Star of David.

Friedhelm Schmitt, a 52-year-old neurologist, said he’d joined the protest “because I had to. It’s my democratic duty. It’s like going to vote.”

German prosecutors have said the suspect sought to carry out a “massacre” in the synagogue and had about four kilograms (nearly nine pounds) of explosives in his car.

Bebelplatz, Berlin book burnings, 1933 (Bundesarchiv / Georg Pahl)

He unsuccessfully tried for several minutes to enter the house of worship, where dozens of people were attending a prayer service, but the door withstood his shots. He then killed two people and severely injured a couple before he was arrested.

Police have been criticized because they arrived at the synagogue seven minutes after they were alerted to the shooting.

Thousands of people protest on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 in Berlin, Germany, against rising anti-Semitism, days after a man attacked a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. (Paul Zinken/dpa via AP)

On Friday night in Halle, thousands of people gathered at the synagogue in a demonstration of solidarity with the small Jewish community, whose members returned to the synagogue for Shabbat eve prayers.

People place flowers in front of the synagogue in Halle, Germany, where a memorial has been placed for the victims of Wednesday’s shooting. October 11, 2019. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

Some held candles; others placed flowers at a makeshift memorial.

Related: ‘A Shabbat of healing’: Halle’s resilient Jews return to pray, find solidarity

Earlier Friday, thousands of people gathered in Halle’s central Marktplatz square, blocking light rail service in the area. They flew Israeli flags, as well as anti-fascist ones, and carried banners with slogans condemning anti-Semitism.

Protesters wear an Israeli flag and IDF t-shirt in Halle, Germany’s central Marktplatz, October 11, 2019. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

“We’re standing between two flames,” said the synagogue’s gabbai (warden), 59-year-old Josef Levin, who came to Germany from Ukraine in 2004.

Halle, Germany’s synagogue, October 11, 2019. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

“On the one side we have the neo-fascists, and on the other, we have immigrants coming from Syria and other places in the Middle East, who hate us just as much. And we’re stuck in the middle, burning,” Levin told The Times of Israel on Friday night.

ToI’s Yaakov Schwartz contributed to this piece.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments