BERLIN – A man in army clothing and with a shovel attacked and seriously injured a Jewish student who came out of a synagogue in Hamburg on Sunday, less than a year after an attack on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle was fatal.
Security forces and police officers stationed in the Hamburg synagogue where people celebrated the Jewish holiday of Sukkot subjugated and quickly arrested a 29-year-old man whose name the authorities did not reveal. The suspect had a piece of paper with a swastika in his pocket, the German news agency DPA reported.
The 26-year-old victim, who wore a kipa or skullcap in an attack, suffered severe head injuries and was taken to hospital, police said.
“This is not a one-off case, this is a hideous anti-Semitism, and we must all oppose it,” wrote German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Twitter.
In Germany, the number of anti-Semitic crimes has almost doubled in the past three years. Last year alone, the government recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, which culminated in an attack on the synagogue in Halle on October 9. In this attack, one rifleman tried and failed to assert himself on the Jewish calendar during the service for Yom Kippur, the holiest day, and then killed two people elsewhere.
Stephan Balliet (28), arrested in Halle, is currently on trial and has spoken openly in court about his hatred not only against Jews, but also against Muslims and foreigners, and about being influenced by a right-wing extremist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand , which killed 51 people in the past year.
Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern about the rise in anti-Semitism in Germany and warned in a speech to the Central Council of Jews that it was a reality “that many Jews do not feel safe and respected in our country”.
“Racism and anti-Semitism have never disappeared, but for some time they have become more visible and unrestrained,” said the Chancellor, citing the attack in Halle as an example of “how quickly words can become deeds”.
In Halle, the congregation in the synagogue barely evaded a massacre a year ago. The synagogue door was locked and withstood the clumsy explosives that were supposed to inflate it. In his anger, the shooter would later point his gun at other random targets in the city.
After the attack on Sunday, Jewish organizations in Germany and beyond called on the government to increase protection and focus on long-term strategies to combat anti-Semitism.
“I am sad to learn that a German-Jewish community this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot is again exposed to a violent, anti-Semitic terrorist act,” said Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress in a statement. “We have to ask ourselves, and the German local and national authorities have to deal with the question – why does this keep happening? Why Does Anti-Semitism Thrive? “
“The federal government must take responsibility for strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never allowed,” added Lauder. “The long-term viability of Jewish life in Germany depends on it.”