Thursday, May 21, 2015

Germany: GDR leader Erich Honecker believed US was ruled by Jews

Interview with Anetta Kahane, chairwoman of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation:
Q: How did you perceive the political relationship between the GDR and Israel?

It was non-existent. The only relationship with Israel was one of absolute rejection, of hatred even. The way this was handled in the GDR was bizarre. We did an exhibition with the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, "Anti-Semitism in the GDR," and during research for that, we found out that the GDR provided shelter for terrorists. They were supported by the government and were trained there. It's egregious.

That was the relationship with Israel - they sided with people who wanted to destroy Israel. In the GDR, it was very clear whose side people were on during the 6-Day-War or the Yom-Kippur-War and how sad they were that Israel wasn't wiped off the map.

Q: When did that begin to change?

In the early or mid-80s, when the GDR was in terrible economic shape. GDR leader Erich Honecker wanted better trade conditions with the US and somebody told him: "You know, the US is ruled by Jews and that's why you need to play nice with Israel and with the Jews in the GDR and in the US, too. The Jews are the key to getting the money."

Suddenly, things worked out that never did before. Jewish congregations had property returned to them that had been taken away earlier. All of a sudden, cemeteries were kept up. And the government started to use a much friendlier tone with Israel. All of this was to get the trade conditions with the US improved. This didn't end up happening, but it was the original motivation.

Q: With anti-Semitism so prevalent, did your family ever consider moving to West Germany?

That was never an alternative for my family. My father would never have wanted to go to West Germany, where almost every higher-standing civil servant was a former Nazi. This really turned him off.

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