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DuBow Digest American Edition A Newsletter on American Jewish - German Relations AMERICAN EDITION April 1, 2009 Dear Friends

: Before getting to the “meat & potatoes” of the newsletter I want you to know that DuBow Digest has entered the World of the Website! DuBow Digest now has its own website, http://www.dubowdigest.typepad.com/ Both the American and Germany editions of the newsletter will be posted there so you can easily read the one that goes to Germany. (It’s in English). The website is called DuBow Digest Denk-Schrift (Think Piece). Posted will be items too long for the newsletter and articles written by people other than me. If you have something interesting on the DD subject let me know and I’ll post it. Second, I am also posting on a something called “scribd” which has a Google connection. So, if you type in “DuBow Digest” in Google – Voila! There it will be! Now down to business… IN THIS ISSUE *The Economy: Today’s Real Germany *Neo-Nazis and the Culture *The EU: A Puzzlement for Most of US *Fall of the Wall: 20th Anniversary * Rehabilitating Nazi-Era Traitors *Heiner: A Special Person *International Commemoration Day for Holocaust Victims at the Bundestag *Personal Notes THE ECONOMY: TODAY’S REAL GERMANY If the sum total of your reading about Germany includes only DuBow Digest you may not have a fully rounded picture of what Germans are doting on these days. By and large, they are not walking around thinking a lot about the Holocaust, antiSemitism and other matters of Jewish interest. Surely, they’re more interested in their own economy, whether they still have jobs and how they are going to pay their bills. Sound familiar? They’re actually in about the same sort of shape that we in the U.S. are in. A saving grace for them is that they have a much better developed “social net” so, with universal health care; for instance, no one has to sacrifice their health status in order to buy food for the kids. Deutsche Welle reports, “The economic slowdown will have a much bigger impact on Germany than previously thought. Experts say the economy will contract by up to 7 percent, and push unemployment up to 4.75 million by the end of 2010. Germany's Commerzbank has warned that the economic downturn will have a harsher effect on the country's development than predicted at the start of the year. Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank, told the Berliner Zeitung that in light of plunging order intakes among German companies, Germany's economy would shrink by as much as 7 percent this year. The number of unemployed can be expected to grow by more than 1.5 million within a two-year period, Kraemer said, adding that by the end of 2010, Germany will be nearing the 5 million mark. Currently, some 3.5 million Germans are registered as unemployed. The nation's GDP could contract by 4 percent to 4.5 percent this year, according to an internal economics ministry report cited by the Bild newspaper on Tuesday,

March 24. In January, the ministry predicted a contraction of only 2.25 percent for this year. A new forecast will be issued next month. To add to these problems there is a lot of internal squabbling about whether the government should bail out Opel, a major German car maker which also happens to be part of GM. Chancellor Merkel, seems to be opposed feeling that bailouts are bad business. The Social Democrats seem to be in favor as a bailout would keep Opel operating and many union members working. As of this writing they’re still arguing. Sound familiar? Horst Koehler is the President of Germany. At times he speaks above politics and politicians directly to the people. Such is the case in a recent speech on the economy. Pres. Koehler is the former managing Director of the International Monetary Fund so he knows a little about financial matters. He recently made a speech which you can read in its entirety. Access it at: http://www.bundespraesident.de/en/-,5.653306/Berlin-Address-by-Federal-Pres.htm NEO-NAZIS AND THE CULTURE I reported in the last edition that the neo-Nazi NPD party was financially strapped but I warned that it certainly wasn’t going away. Perhaps even more important at the moment than its political clout (very minimal) is its cultural impact on youth. Unhappily, that seems much more than minimal. “The neo-Nazi scene, both inside and outside the NPD, is becoming stronger, not as a nationwide electoral force but in its influence on racist attitudes and violence," Professor Hajo Funke, a prominent analyst of the far right at Berlin's Free University”, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "There are places I wouldn't advise anyone who looks foreign to go without protection." Der Spiegel continues, “Funke's analysis was backed up this week by a major new study which showed that fully one in seven German teenagers -- 14.4 percent -have attitudes deemed highly xenophobic. They agreed with statements like, for example, "Most immigrants are criminal." The two-year, government-commissioned survey of more than 20,000 15-year-old schoolchildren concluded that a further 26.2 percent held "fairly xenophobic" attitudes. A proportion of 5.2 percent of teenagers were classified as far-right because they had racist views, listened to neo-Nazi music, wore corresponding fashions or had committed a far-right crime, the survey showed. A further 11.5 percent had strong far-right sympathies. "It was known that the figures were high," German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told a news conference on Tuesday. "But I'm appalled that they're this high." We are not talking 1930’s numbers here but as the Minister says, any number this high is troubling. I don’t worry so much about the survey numbers. I’m more worried about what creeps into the culture – and stays! It takes generations to weed it out. In the U.S. we are still suffering from post Civil War cultural remnants. The anti-Semitic remnants in Europe are even more long lasting. Seeing them grow in Germany in very troubling for us and for the great majority of Germans.

THE EU:A PUZZLEMENT (FOR MOST OF US)The state of the economy in Germany only indirectly has an influence on the issues covered in DuBow Digest. However,

whatever affects the economy also affects the social fabric of the country. It, therefore, does have an impact on the matters we have interest in such as the level of anti-Semitism and, because of the economy, how Germany deals with the Middle East. The EU countries held their Spring Summit at a Brussels meeting 10 days ago to try to come to some sort of agreement as to what position(s) they should pursue when the G-20 hold their meeting in April. The latter group, of course, includes the U.S. Der Spiegel reported “The closing document agreed on by European Union leaders gathered in Brussels reads like a German wish list. Chancellor Merkel was able to convince the EU to focus on financial-market regulation -- and to resist new stimulus programs. When the heads of the world's leading economies meet at the G-20 summit in London at the beginning of April, there are bound to be some differences of opinion. But Steinbrück's (Finance Minister) elation was not entirely unjustified. The closing document from the EU meeting reads largely like a German wish list The European Council makes its priorities clear in the 22-page document, especially when it comes to the financial crisis. Much of it is dedicated to the Europeans' demand for increased regulation of the financial markets, with passages devoted to economic stimulus looking truncated by comparison. "Considerable fiscal stimulus," worth €400 billion, has already been committed to the EU's overall economy, the Council says -- and placing this point high in the document seems intended to quell criticism from the US that Europe has been too tentative. Merkel once again emphasized that Europe has "more than fulfilled" its aims. If you want to read more, click: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,614621,00.html How much does each of us know about the EU? Did you know that there is something called the European Parliament for which there will be German elections in June? And, how many of us know anything at all about the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the European Central bank and a myriad of other EU agencies? Frankly, I’m no expert, however, the Germans seem to have at least passing interest and, no doubt, it has some sort of importance, especially economic, and for that reason alone we should learn a little more. To start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union P.S. You will probably be hearing more about the European Parliament soon. JTA reported last week, “Extreme rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen is likely to chair the European Parliament's first meeting following elections in June. Le Pen, leader of the French extreme-right National Front party and a member of the European Parliament since 1984, has been convicted numerous times on charges of Holocaust denial, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Usually the sessions of the European Parliament are chaired by the president of the institution, comprised of directly elected members from the European Union's 27 member states. Traditionally, however, the assembly's inaugural session after elections, during which its president is elected by the parliamentarians, is led by the oldest member of the body. With the lists of candidates for the European Parliament becoming clear as the ballot approaches, it has also become evident that 80-year-old Le Pen will probably be the senior member of the Parliament, implying that he will chair the incoming assembly's first meeting.” To which I will add a hearty “Oy vey!” FALL OF THE WALL – 20TH ANNIVERSARY It’s hard to believe but almost 20 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the crash of the concrete the whole world changed and the Cold War, for all intents and purposes, came to an end. For those of you in AJC who visited East

Germany in the 1980’s you can think back and know that you experienced a place and time that has passed into history. Germany is beginning to gear up for the 20th anniversary. Der Spiegel reports, “One of the events that is being planned will be On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, over 1,000 giant dominos will be erected along a section of the strip that once divided East and West Germany. The dominos will then be toppled to commemorate the end of the Cold War.” You’ve got to admit it, the Berliners have novel ideas. “…This November, two kilometers worth of gigantic dominos will be erected between Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz along a portion of the strip that once separated East and West Berlin. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dominos will be set tumbling and the barrier will collapse in roughly half an hour's time.” The path of the Wall runs right past the AJC Berlin Office (Ramer Institute). It should provide a pretty good view of the “domino effect”. Anyone interested in making the trip? Let me know. Read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,615014,00.html REHABILITATING NAZI-ERA “TRAITORS” “Get over it” doesn’t seem to be a phrase that gets any traction in Germany. For reasons all too apparent, “The War” and “The Holocaust” do not and will not recede. Currently there is discussion regarding, as Der Spiegel points out, “Soldiers found guilty of treason by Nazi Germany's military courts have not yet been rehabilitated, even though their "crimes" were often defending Jews or criticizing Hitler. Germany's parliament is considering overturning the verdicts, but a proposed bill is being hampered by party politics. Why this is the case has more to do with which party is proposing the rehabilitation than it does with the issue itself. It is complicated but interesting. You’ll have to read the whole article to find out. However, I mention it because I think this sort of continued soul searching seems to be a permanent part of the German public psyche. Self-examination is always a good thing. Read the whole story: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,604076,00.html HEINER: A SPECIAL PERSON In June, as I’ve noted before, the American Jewish Committee and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation will experience their 29th annual Exchange program. It “exchanges” a group of young German professionals associated with the Foundation in one way or another and a group of (not always so young) leadership people from AJC. Question! Who has participated in more of these programs than anyone else? The answer is Heiner Sussebach, the interpreter who accompanies the American group (the German group members all speak English). This year will be Heiner’s 18th consecutive year. Born in Germany in 1939, he was educated at Boston University married a Boston beauty (Jan), became an American citizen, served in the U.S. Army (of course, in Germany) and eventually returned to Germany to teach interpreters at the University of the Saarland – while maintaining a home in Piermont, NY. Heiner is now “retired” and maintains only one job – that being the interpreter and “jack of all trades” on the “Adenauer Exchange”. He is loved by every AJC’er who has ever met him and is truly a living example of how to improve American Jewish – German relations. He and his wife are also close DuBow family friends but they’re moving to Vermont. We’re sad! INTERNATIONAL COMMEMORATION DAY FOR HOLOCAUST VICTIMS AT THE BUNDESTAG Leonard Wien of Miami is one of those unusual American Jewish activists who, when he gets

interested in something, does something about it. A couple of years ago he came to Germany on the AJC – Adenauer Foundation Exchange program. He got interested in the fact that some synagogues there needed Torah scrolls. He’s now initiated a program to see that it happens. He took a group to Germany himself and attended the Holocaust Victims Memorial service at the Bundestag. He sent me a report. A part of It follows: International Commemoration Day for Holocaust Victims at Deutscher Bundestag, Platz der Republik. This hour and 15 minute ceremony held in the chamber used by the Bundestag members was impressive in its thoroughness, the quality of the people who came and those who did not. The entire government including Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was in attendance. Four young high school students read excerpts from a book which told of the horrors children experienced during the Holocaust. A musical ensemble played several appropriate pieces. Several professors addressed the fact that the National Socialist regime had done horrible things which should never be allowed again in Germany. These statements were detailed, through, and full of the ways the German people have tried to rid themselves of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia (an intense dislike of people from other countries).. It was impressive and very well done. Thanks Leonard. We should not forget that April 11 is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. If you want more information about it, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_HaShoah PERSONAL NOTES I recently wrote a piece entitled American Jewish Diplomacy & Germany which is a bit too long for the newsletter. So, I’ve posted it on my website and you can read it by clicking www.dubowdigest.typepad.com To my Christian readers I want to wish you a very happy Easter. To my Jewish readers I wish you a very "Sweet Passover". Stay away from too much Mahtzohbrei and I certainly hope you're the one who finds the Afikomen. You can contact me directly by clicking here: CONTACT See you in mid-April.