Horst Seehofer and the police: Clear yes and no to the racism study

Confusion over the racism police study: Vice Chancellor Scholz announces that there will be one. Interior Minister Seehofer sees no new stand

One thing is certain: the study is coming. Only what should be in there is not yet certain Photo: image

BERLIN taz | It is an unusual practice for the Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor to announce that the Minister of the Interior will commission a controversial study on racism in the police force. That is exactly what Olaf Scholz did on Monday. “There will be a study. We’re still thinking about what to call them, ”said the SPD chancellor candidate in a WDR podcast. The background: The SPD and also the Greens, FDP and Left are calling for a scientific study on racism in the police in view of the threats made by NSU 2.0 against lawyers and left-wing politicians, as well as a large number of right-wing extremist chat groups among police officers.

At the beginning of June, after the demonstrations against racism and police violence in the United States, SPD leader Saskia Esken said: “In Germany, too, there is latent racism in the ranks of the security forces, which must be recognized and combated by measures taken by the internal leadership.” CSU interior minister Horst Seehofer has been vehemently rejecting this idea for months. Scholz’s announcement was therefore seen as a surprising change of course.

Horst Seehofer doesn’t seem to want to know anything about that. He was surprised by the announcement, said the CSU man on Tuesday. There is nothing new: “What I said applies.” According to Seehofer, the study should be based on the proposals of the Police Union (GdP). The focus should be on violence against police officers and their everyday lives. The study, which will be carried out under the wing of the Minister of the Interior, aims to investigate “the changed framework conditions of police work”. According to Seehofer, an advisory board will be set up for this study, which will include sociologists as well as the vice-federal chairman of the GdP, Jörg Radek. According to the GdP proposal, the study should also investigate why “sometimes prejudices against certain social groups” become entrenched among individual civil servants, according to the GdP in September.

There will be “no study of the police that is directed against the police with allegations and allegations,” assures Seehofer. The police are wrongly under general suspicion. “More than 99 percent of the police are on the basis of the constitution,” said the CSU minister, without revealing where this number comes from. Regarding new reports about right-wing extremist chat groups in the Berlin police, Seehofer said that one had to be careful not to turn “suspected cases into proven cases”.

Seehofer: “I have a clear line”

The interior minister quoted statements from the GdP that the “tone towards police officers” had become more aggressive. Racism has become a “normal accusation” that police officers are confronted with on a daily basis. He repeated several times that there would be no study of racism or right-wing extremism in the police with him. Nevertheless, he is striving for a unanimous position in the grand coalition on this issue.

At the end of the press conference, Seehofer assured: “I have a clear line.” That will also be understood by the public. A spokesman for Olaf Scholz told the taz, however, that he was confident that there would be a study on racism.

An internal paper by the Ministry of the Interior on the police study states: “Our police officers must not be left alone with their experiences. There is no tolerance for extremism, racism and anti-Semitism. ”The planned study should investigate, according to the somewhat cloudy formulation,“ how this claim can also be lived in the future ”.

At a meeting in the Chancellery on Monday – in addition to the police study – other arrangements were made: at the insistence of the SPD, the term “race” should be deleted from the Basic Law. In addition, at the insistence of the SPD, there seems to be a consensus on the establishment of an anti-racism officer. More details, such as the equipment, an appointment or the relationship with the anti-Semitism officer in the Ministry of the Interior, are not yet known.

For this, according to the internal government deal, the Union is pushing through with the demand for more powers for the security authorities. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the police should be able to play suspicious Trojans on mobile phones in order to record messages and calls via apps like WhatsApp. The SPD was strictly against it for a long time, its no had become quieter under the impression of the attacks in Hanau and Halle. In addition, children’s rights are to be anchored in the Basic Law.

The parliamentary manager of the left-wing parliamentary group, Jan Korte, describes the coupling of more Trojans and the possible racism study as a “dirty deal at the expense of fundamental rights and freedoms”. He shows the “misery of the SPD, which Seehofer approved the full program with minimal concessions”. In a “situation in which the population has to forego freedoms that are otherwise self-evident”, it shows a “shameful ignorance” to equip secret services with new surveillance instruments.


Debate about SZ-Text – I’m tired too – culture

On October 4th, the second day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, a 26-year-old Jewish student was attacked and injured in front of the synagogue in the Hohen Weide in Hamburg with a folding spade. Once again there is an anti-Semitic attack, once again a person is attacked in public just because he wears a kippah, a Jew is despised and hurt just because he is a Jew. Once again in a country that wanted to agree on a “never again”. Once again in a country that promises in all state acts to want to protect Jewish life from anti-Semitism, but at the same time pretends that anti-Semitism is something that can only be found elsewhere, in some yesterday or with any other. Everywhere, just not where anti-Semitism exists: in our midst, in the here and now. As if there wasn’t a party in the Bundestag that propagated revisionist, völkisch, anti-Semitic convictions, as if the right-wing terror of the NSU hadn’t existed, not the right-wing attack on the synagogue in Halle, in which two people were killed, as if there weren’t any again and again reason for Jews to mourn.

On October 4th, after the attack on the student in Hamburg, the Jewish pianist Igor Levit wrote on Twitter: “So tired. So, so tired and angry.” On October 5th Levit wrote: “Yesterday: Hamburg. Today: phrases. Never again hashtags. As always. Simply tiring. Fatiguing.” On October 9th he wrote again: “How very, very tired this time makes you.” In German there are etymological connections between the words “mourn” and “slowly”, “sluggish”, but also “sink”, “transpire”. So in the words “I’m tired, so tired”, which appear again and again, as if they were slowly seeping through him, there was also a deep sadness. So Levite now writes about his tiredness – only to find out about it in a text in the Süddeutsche Zeitung to be mocked a few days later.

What is not mentioned in it, but has to be mentioned: Igor Levit himself is covered by right-wing extremist death threats, not only in general, but very specific, with precise information at which concert he should be killed. To repeat it once again: A Jewish German writes of his exhaustion, of being exposed to anti-Semitic contempt and violence again and again as a Jew, of having to react again and again to the news of anti-Semitic attacks – and these sentences serve as defamatory in the SZ Final punch of a text that polemically tears Levite to pieces as a musician, as a political citizen and as a human being. Is it really possible for Jews to be ridiculed in German newspapers for expressing their fear, their despondency, their anger? That they are advised to complain in other words, more politely, less angry, or even better: they would keep quiet and concentrate on other things? At least that is what the text insinuates through the reference to a professional, informative tweet by the pianist Daniil Trifonov, which is contrasted with that of Levit.

Our utterances, terms and images have a resonance space

In a letter to Sebastian Haffner dated July 31, 1978, the essayist and Holocaust survivor Jean Améry wrote: “My injury does not cover any new, firmly adhered skin, and where one wants to close, I tear it open because I know that it is underneath her the suppuration process continues (…) I think you come too early with your objectivity. ” It is the same with Levit: his injury does not cover any new, firmly attached skin, and where one tries to close, he tears it open again. This is how he speaks and writes, this is how he reacts to the social and political world around him, in which right-wing, racist, inhuman movements are becoming more and more unrestrained, more expansive, more and more violent. Levit’s answer is as subjective as it is sore. This may sound sometimes short of breath, sometimes angry, sometimes tired. But whoever demands sober objectivity has probably never experienced what it is like: to be constantly attacked for a certain belief, a certain body, a certain skin color. Those who criticize that should ask themselves what it is like to always be treated as an outsider, what it is like to receive these letters or comments on the Internet that want to see you deported, raped or gassed.

In a statement by the editors, which responded to the readers’ criticism, it is said: The “denigration of Judaism” was not the aim of the author. That may be true. It is not about a person either, just a text. And this explanation is not enough. Even unsuspectingly conveyed resentments are resentments. Even ignorantly expressed prejudices reproduce prejudices with their own history of exclusion and injury. We, who speak or write in public, have to consider this: Our utterances, terms and images have a resonance space, they are understood and interpreted in historical and intertextual references, they repeat or deny what others, in front of us or at the same time, articulate to have. Nobody speaks or writes in a space devoid of experience. We have to ask, with every sentence we write, every image we evoke, what we quote in it, which memories are linked to it for whom, which voices are so legitimized or de-legitimized.

If one reads the rowdy polemic against Levite in these historical references, one notices formulations that invoke classic anti-Semitic attributions and clichés. It doesn’t have to happen right away. It is enough to trigger associations by suggesting, which then completes the reading audience. It’s like anti-Semitic painting by numbers: All you need is a few dots that are connected to one another, and the finished picture is created imaginary by itself. The vague insinuation, the vague suggestion also has the tactical advantage of always being able to subsequently deny having said something anti-Semitic – after all, it was the audience’s practiced resentment that fulfills what itself is not explicitly stated.

What caused their pain, anger, fear, and melancholy?

It does not matter whether it is about the musician or the citizen Levit – one as well as the other is accused of manipulative untruthfulness. The text criticizes “playfully noncommittal”, then “theatrically presented pathos”, from the praise given to the counter figure, Daniil Trifonov, it can be inferred that Levit is denied “real” emotion and “real” art. This topos of the “improper”, “inauthentic” is familiar in the history of anti-Semitic resentment (also and especially through Richard Wagner). The murmuring way in which Levit’s friendship is described “with the right journalists and multipliers” in Berlin also subliminally cites the old motif of the “powerful, Jewish lobby”.

Certainly, it is not always hermeneutically undisputed whether a linguistic image or a formulation must be interpreted as anti-Semitic or not. That sometimes remains controversial. But unfortunately this text is full of it. Critical voices on social media are accused of an “victim claim ideology”, an obvious twin to the vocabulary of the right-wing radical discourse that denounces the alleged “guilt cult” of non-Jewish Germans. Here: the German society, which allegedly dealt too much with the crimes of National Socialism, which should be proud of its history again, and there: the victims who do not want to be quiet, who complained unduly and supposedly in “emotional excesses” went out. It is questioned whether Levit deserved the Federal Cross of Merit, a doubt that Alice Weidel stirred up in a public campaign that is normalized and ennobled in this way in the SZ.

It’s not about making any criticism of the musician Igor Levit impossible. Of course, his concerts or recordings can be taken apart for musical reasons. At any time. Aesthetic criticism can be sharp as long as it argues precisely and respectfully. Nor is it about preventing any reflection on the question of how humanism can be humanly defended. I think it is ethically and politically vital to consider how racist, anti-Semitic movements can be countered without being infected and deformed by their hatred. But that only works if you don’t leave the people who are subject to this hatred alone. This only works if you understand emphatically what caused their pain and melancholy, their fear and their anger. This only works if you are aware of the history (s) of violence in which your own speaking and acting belong. Anti-Semitism and racism cannot be fought if one does not see how they are shown and what they do to those who are at their mercy. Racism and anti-Semitism are not only felt emotionally, they are structural discrimination and real dangers. It is not least the SZ, with its excellent reporting on the NSU, that has shown this. Dealing with Auschwitz is not a single act or a repetitive ritual, but an unfinished task, for us individually, but also as a democratic community.

I am self-conscious. I know Igor Levit and have performed with him. But I hope and suspect that I would have written the same text if I didn’t know it. I am tired, too.

The author is the recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She writes a regular column for the SZ .


“The City Without Jews”: Failed Enlightenment (neue-deutschland.de)

The Austrian silent film “The City Without Jews” was released in 1924. From today’s perspective, the title refers to a later historical point in time, to the deportation and murder of European Jews by the Germans and their allies.

In fact, the political situation was already poisoned and brutal in the years after the First World War. The Viennese director Hans Karl Breslauer filmed a book with the same title by the writer Hugo Bettauer, who was shot and died in Vienna following hostility from the right-wing press from around the Austrian NSDAP. His killer was acquitted of insanity by a jury, admitted to a psychiatric clinic, and was released two years later. The director Breslauer joined the NSDAP in 1940. But you should try to look at the film according to your own rules. Teleology blocks the view of the peculiarity of the moment – the prerequisite for the later crime against humanity.

Breslauer’s film is at the end of a phase of Expressionist cinema, which is about overpowering structures and powerless figures. The cinematic space, the décor and the camera are everything, the people, on the other hand, are nothing, the corridor is crooked because the streets are crooked. This applies to the overflowing houses of »Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari ”(1920) as well as for the wall that“ The tired death ”(1921) built around his empire, or the modern hotel building in which the old porter loses all support as“ The Last Man ”(1924). The scenes of the “City without Jews” mostly show a perspective flight in the background, suggesting freedom of choice, but the figures freeze into pillars of salt in the foreground due to all the external demands. Documentary-like crowd scenes serve as the motor of the plot and reference to the real world. They show the rebellious crowds and the Jews who are forced to leave. But these scenes seem completely automatic and unconscious.

“The city without Jews” takes place in a kind of city-state called Utopia, a land that seems to end at the municipal walls – a very beautiful symbol for Austria then and now. There is a chancellor who maintains diplomatic and economic relations with other countries. The railroad takes you to a place called Zion. According to a council resolution, all Jews from the city-state are banished there. We do not find out what Zion is like, nor how the displaced are faring there. The movie’s perspective is clearly non-Jewish. Far away in America lives a wealthy anti-Semite who grants the chancellor a large loan – on condition that he banishes the Jews. The loan offer comes at the right time because the economic crisis is rampant and the people are rebelling in the streets.

The Chancellor is driven by fear. His speech to the council begins with a philosemitic and ends with an anti-Semitic one. Seldom does one see the togetherness of these two poles so perfectly. The Chancellor praised the Jews for their economic power and thus justified their exclusion: Their racial superiority made them a danger. The economic crisis and the misery of the people are due to the conditions that run above their heads and behind their backs, as Theodor W. Adorno once wrote. It is wrong, but also obvious, to look for the causes in one’s direct field of vision. It is just as wrong to see people as completely incapable of acting. Ultimately, nobody’s hands are so tied in “The City Without Jews” as the anti-Semitic councilor Bernard. Anti-Semitism is presented as a psychosis in him. As the somnambulist Cesare in the “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ”he ends up in a crooked, painted cell, which, in keeping with his madness, is teeming with stars of David.

One of the basic constants of anti-Semitism is to identify Jews as traders or bankers with capitalism, which is known to have no appearance of its own. The fact that a large part of Eastern European Jews in the early 20th century was as impoverished as many non-Jews was (and is) deliberately overlooked. Even without Jewish traders and bankers, the politico-economic process continues in its crisis-prone form as well as in its alienating normal execution.

Capitalism is indifferent to the fate of individuals. Anti-Semites find this difficult to imagine. They not only take their own economic powerlessness personally, but also the economic power of others. This is shown in a misunderstood way in “The City Without Jews”. Although the film pursues an educational mission, it itself serves racist assumptions. He misunderstood anti-Semitism as mere prejudice against the Jews. Then the question is negotiated whether the natural Jewish superiority harms or benefits the Germans. The city-state and its councilors finally go through a purification in self-experiment – from the false assumption of the pest to the certainty of the beneficial one.

“The city without Jews” was considered lost after the Second World War. A part was found in the Amsterdam Film Museum, and other damaged sequences turned up at a Paris flea market. The Filmarchiv Austria only presented a restored version two years ago, which is now available on DVD. For the new version of the film, Olga Neuwirth developed new music for classical ensemble and electronics. As she herself writes in the booklet enclosed with the DVD, a camouflage technique, “a combination of ironic distance and powerful anger”, is characteristic of this new composition. The film composer uses this to comment on her material in a political way, highlighting ambivalences and bigotry aural. At the same time she uses samples of the recordings of yodelling chants, with which she refers to general anti-Semitic affinities in Austria, also beyond the cinematic plot and beyond the year 1924.

Hans Karl Breslauer: The city without Jews (Austria, 1924), DVD, 87 minutes, music: Olga Neuwirth (2019), absolut media, 2020


Allegations against the Magdeburg police: anti-Semitism, quite normal

An entire department of the Saxony-Anhalt police is said to have tolerated and spread anti-Semitism. The state policy is drawing its first conclusions.

At the inauguration of a new kennel for the Saxony-Anhalt police: Interior Minister Stahlknecht Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert / dpa

LEIPZIG / BERLIN taz | In the entire Magdeburg riot police station, it is said to have been common practice since the 1990s to refer to the operator of the canteen there as “Jews”. The Saxony-Anhalt Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (CDU) announced on Monday.

The cases became known due to an anonymous e-mail that was received by the Burgenlandkreis police station last Friday – the anniversary of the anti-Semitic and racist terrorist attack in Halle. In this accused the: the sender: in that the “entire office” knew the circumstance and did “nothing to prevent”. “This institutional anti-Semitism has to stop,” it says in the letter.

The allegations were investigated immediately and were confirmed, said Stahlknecht. He was “affected, scared, angry and shaken” by the incidents. Last week, the Interior Minister himself was criticized for having said that the police who guarded Jewish facilities in Saxony-Anhalt were missing elsewhere.

The Central Council of Jews accused him of promoting anti-Semitism and suggested that he resign. Max Privorozki, the chairman of the Jewish community in Halle, also said that he was “really shocked” by Stahlknecht’s statement.

Similar case in the Bundeswehr

Stahlknecht himself denied responsibility and only said at a press conference that he was sorry if he had been misunderstood. The police presence to protect Jewish facilities has “top priority”.

Now the interior minister is forced to act: A special commission is to investigate the case in the Magdeburg police more closely. According to Stahlknecht, Jerzy Montag, legal policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group, is to lead the investigation. However, internal circles denied that there were already firm agreements in place. All that was said was a question and considerations.

Montag would not be inexperienced as an expert: He was already in charge of the special investigation into the Oury Jalloh case and is currently an expert on the commission for dealing with right-wing extremism incidents in the Hessian police.

In addition to the investigation in the specific Magdeburg case, the State Ministry of the Interior is trying to draw further conclusions. The protection of the constitution, Stefan Damke, is to take the newly created post of extremism officer and set up a complaints office. In addition, external experts are to investigate the spread of anti-Semitism and racism in the state police.

Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) had already initiated a similar study. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) has so far refused to carry out such investigations at the federal level. He claimed that there was “no structural problem” in the federal and state security authorities. Christiane Bergmann, Head of the Public Security Department in the Ministry of the Interior in Saxony-Anhalt, however, emphasized with regard to the latest case in Magdeburg: “You cannot speak of individual cases.”

A similar case became known from the German armed forces at the beginning of the year: In his annual report, the Bundestag’s armed forces commissioner reported on a non-commissioned officer who described a canteen leaseholder as a “real Jew” because of allegedly excessive prices. She received disciplinary proceedings and the outcome is unknown.


From Liz Taylor to Gal Gadot, too pale Cleopatra?

We can imagine the brainstorming between feverish agents stuck on Zoom: “What other ‘powerful woman’ could therefore embody Gal Gadot while keeping this empowerment mix, golden finery and miniskirt?” Cleopatra! Already done ? Not like that, swears the Israeli star, now one of Hollywood’s biggest cachets. “We are going to tell this story through the eyes of women, in front of and behind the camera”, enlisting Patty Jenkins, director of the two Wonder Woman of DC / Warner (the sequel saw its release pushed back by the pandemic) and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis (behind theAlexandre d’Oliver Stone).

Ce pitch pseudo-woke (that is to say “progressive” according to the zeitgeist) will not have held a quarter of an hour on the ruthless social networks, triggering the most boring, even stinking controversy of the week, the grievances legitimate around the diversity on the screen finding itself quickly covered by antisemitic hints and endless debates on the color of the “real” Cleopatra, even more mysterious than the curve of her nasal ridge for archaeologists.


There are those who consider the Egyptian to be an Arab or African heroine, a historical figure again “whitened” by Hollywood. From Yul Brynner to Australian self-tanner Joel Edgerton in Ramses II at Ridley Scott’s, peplums, from the golden age to post-Gladiator, have always cast whites on thrones and minorities to hold the fan, while we now know the Roman Empire (of which Cleopatra’s Egypt was part) much more mixed than that.

The pro-Gadot troops, starting with the scribe Kalogridis, opened a counterfire by arguing that the descendant of the Ptolemies – even if several historians believe that the dynasty necessarily mingled with the natives by dint of orgies – was before all “Greco-Macedonian”.

Mediterranean therefore. Just like Gadot, his defenders advance. This is where the Israeli-Arab conflict takes place, far from the debate on the color chart. Israeli, Ashkenazi Jewish, the very smooth Gal Gadot remains for the majority of the Arab world an intruder in the Middle East (Wonder Woman was even censored in Lebanon), repeatedly referred to her military service in the ranks of the IDF and to her condemnations of Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza. “After stealing the lands of the Arabs, you steal their roles”, launched on Twitter Sameera Khan, ex-Miss New Jersey who became a journalist at Russia Today.

More than yet another modern identity fight, the controversy is terribly vintage. In 1962, the choice of “Zionist” Liz Taylor to play the Queen of the Nile had ulcerated Nasser, Egyptian president and champion of pan-Arabism. The English actress had converted a few years earlier to Judaism and raised funds for Israel at charity galas, leading to the boycott of her films and the impossibility of filming in the land of the pharaohs. But in 1964, Cairo backed down. With 122 mentions of the word “Egypt”, Mankiewicz’s monumental kitchery was considered the best publicity possible for the country.

Guillaume Gendron correspondent in Tel Aviv


The book Alice: The Stolen Best Seller

“This is how you cook in Vienna!” – Karina Urbach has researched the history of her grandmother’s Aryanised cookbook. Is the Reinhardt Verlag finally giving in?

Karina Urbach does research in Princeton and has written an impressive family chronicle Photo: Dan Komoda

Alice Urbach came from a respected and wealthy Viennese family. Born Alice Mayer in 1886, she saw the fall of the Austrian dual monarchy. Before the First World War (1914–18), her father Sigmund Mayer had speech duels with the anti-Semite Karl Lueger, Vienna’s mayor from 1897 to 1910. Mayer also wrote articles on his biography (“A Jewish businessman 1831–1911”) and on social history ( “The Viennese Jews 1700–1900).

A lesson in greed, anti-Semitism – and resistance

His daughter Alice became interested in cooking at an early age, which the education-hungry father disliked. Cooking was considered a low occupation for domestic workers. He married the daughter to the Viennese doctor Maximilian Urbach. A man who, as it turned out, was addicted to drinking and gambling. Urbach brought Alice’s handsome dowry through, died and left his wife as a widow with their two young sons Otto and Karl in 1920.

Karina Urbach: “The book Alice. How the Nazis stole my grandmother’s cookbook ”. Propylaen Verlag, Berlin October 2020. 424 pages, 25 euros

Father Sigmund had also died in the meantime, and the family’s fortunes had melted away. Alice had to go to work.

With the help of her half-sister Sidonie Rosenberg (murdered in 1942 in the Treblinka extermination camp), Alice managed to establish a cooking school in Vienna in the 1920s. Together they published their first cookbook in 1925. It was the time of new beginnings in Vienna, it seemed, of liberation from the paternalistic estates and class regime of the Habsburg monarchy.

Women like Alice visited the coffee houses that were previously reserved for men. Bourgeois ladies pushed for a new salon culture with bridge evenings to which “bridge bites” were served. Salty finger food or sweet petite fours.

Alice as a young woman in traditional costume with her sister in a photo studio with an alpine backdrop

Alice (sitting) with her sister Helene Photo: private property Karina Urbach

These companies were often supplied by Alice Urbach. The communicatively talented woman, who was interested in food, household and fashion reforms, was Vienna’s caterer from the very beginning. She advertised in the New Free Press – “Afternoon courses of the modern cooking courses by Ms. Alice Urbach, IV Goldeggasse 7 (new modern rooms) for starters, pastry shops and special meat dishes”.

And she gave lectures with titles such as “The quick kitchen of the working woman” or “The girl at the stove”.

Modern and feminist

She was a well-known Viennese personality when her cookbook “How to cook in Vienna!” Was published in 1935. 500 pages thick, smooth modern writing on the cover. It sold very well in increments of ten thousand. Three editions of “Alice Urbach: How to cook in Vienna!” Were published by Ernst Reinhardt Verlag from Munich until 1938.

The book was a bestseller, a culinary compendium of the multinational Vienna – committed to modern housekeeping, with a feminist touch.

But what happened to Alice and her cookbook from 1938 onwards is explained by her granddaughter Karina Urbach in the unusual family and crime story “The Book of Alice”. Reading her book offers a lesson in matters of baseness, anti-Semitism, greed and unscrupulousness up to today Time – but it is also a document of resistance and persistent refusal to bow to injustice.

And an incredibly exciting read. Saturated with sources without these in any way complicating the flow of reading.

Well-known historian

Alice’s granddaughter Karina Urbach is a prominent historian who conducts research at Princeton and teaches in London. As a scientist, in the dispute with the Hohenzollerns over their assets, she repeatedly brought to light sources that clearly demonstrate how anti-Semitic, anti-democratic and pro-fascist the German imperial family was after 1918. The fact that she took on her own family history with “The Book of Alice” cost her, as she says, a great deal of effort.

Your courage to face your personal family history has paid off. “The Book of Alice”, with the cover modeled on her grandmother’s cookbook, represents modern historiography in an outstanding way. It interlinks general events of the time with specific biographies and can thus fan out complex history in a concise and exciting way.

Alice's son Otto, sitting in civilian clothes, talking to a US major

Alice’s son Otto in the middle, a major in the US Army on the right, around 1946/47 Photo: private property Karina Urbach

When the Nazis came to power in Austria in March 1938, the Karina Urbachs family in Vienna was directly affected. The Mayers, the Urbachs and the Rosenbergs were Jewish Austrians. Anti-Semitic riots, looting and mistreatment began in the “Ostmark” on March 12, 1938 on a large scale. Alice Urbach was also affected.

Urbach becomes Rösch

Karina Urbach quotes the then publishing director Hermann Jungk from a commemorative publication published by Reinhardt Verlag in 1974: “After Austria’s annexation, I felt compelled to look for a new author for the cookbook, as Alice Urbach was Jewish and otherwise would not have sold the cookbook can be. ”A“ compulsion ”that was not difficult.

“Alice Urbach: This is how you cook in Vienna!” Was cleared of international and feminist-sounding passages. And from then on, a certain Rudolf Rösch, “long-time master chef and employee of the Reichsnährstand”, operated as the alleged author. After 1945 it continued to be sold under the name Rösch.

Who this “Rösch” should be has remained unclear until today. In the past, the publisher stonewalled when asked. Briefs had disappeared in the publisher’s archive, it was said. Rumors were spread.

Karina Urbach also describes how other Jewish authors at the publishing house fared. About Paul Wessel. According to Karina Urbach, he designed “Reinhardt’s natural science compendia” for the publishing house. They were a forerunner of the red UTB university paperback series, which was so popular with students at least until the pre-digital era.

Wessel was “inherited” as editor and author from 1938 by Viola Riederer von Paar. After 1945 the publishing house made fun of the “supplicant” Wessel, who had since died in the meantime, in anecdotes.

Escape to England

With the help of her son Otto, who had already emigrated, Alice Urbach managed to get out of Nazi Austria in November 1938 and to flee to England. On the day after the Reich Progrom Night in November 1938, the SA and Gestapo set a trap in Vienna for their younger son Karl.

He was brutally tortured by the sadists and taken to Dachau concentration camp. But he was young, unknown – and survived. After his release, in 1939, with the help of his brother Otto and American friends, he managed to travel to the USA via Holland. Alice’s three Viennese sisters and other family members were not so lucky.

Alice Urbach initially made her way in England as a domestic servant and cook. Then she ran a home for unaccompanied Jewish refugee children in Newcastle and later in the Lake District together with Paula Sieber. Little did the children know then that almost all of them would be orphans. Interviews with contemporary witnesses with those who are still alive from the “Children of Windermere” also flow into Urbach’s story about her grandmother’s cookbook and contribute to the moving overall picture of the story.

In Vienna alone, hundreds of thousands wanted to benefit from the looting, murders and aryanizations. Karina Urbach puts the number of Aryanized apartments in Vienna in 1938/39 at 45,000.

And “Rösch” continues to cook

When Alice paid a visit to her hometown in 1949, she rediscovered her cookbook in a bookstore. “Rudolf Rösch: This is how you cook in Vienna!” Her attempts to subsequently assert her author’s rights and copyrights at Reinhardt Verlag were unsuccessful.

While on the run, she had lost her author’s contracts. She had no money for a lawyer. And given the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust alone, the loss of her cookbook seemed too insignificant. But even in old age, she spoke on a US television program about how much her stolen cookbook means.

Just a few days after Karina Urbach’s “Das Buch Alice” was published, Reinhardt-Verlag managed to make a statement. Dem Spiegel opposite he describes the “behavior of the publisher at that time as morally unjustifiable today”.

Will regret be followed by action? For example the new edition of “Alice Urbach: This is how you cook in Vienna!”? It would be an overdue token of repentance from those who tacitly profited from the Aryanizations. A visible recognition for a woman who was stripped of everything in Austria and who was selflessly involved in emigration. Their older son Otto fought for liberation from fascism and after 1945 helped with denazification and democratization.

The latter is a chapter from family history that has yet to be written.


Chosen to play Cleopatra in the cinema, Gal Gadot victim of anti-Semitic insults

The Israeli actress has been attacked by several internet users. If several Jewish associations have denounced this deluge of criticism, often infamous, the interpreter of Wonder Woman preferred not to react.

The film in which she will play the role of the most famous queen of Egypt will be directed by Patty Jenkins.
The film in which she will play the role of the most famous queen of Egypt will be directed by Patty Jenkins. CHRIS DELMAS / AFP

Six years after the turmoil created by a tweet in favor of the Israeli army, Gal Gadot is once again the subject of hatred on social media. The actress, famous for her portrayal of Wonder Woman on the big screen, has been the target of several insulting tweets since the announcement of his choice to play Cleopatra in a future feature film by Patty Jenkins.

If some Internet users wonder about the physical resemblance of the actress with the queen of Egypt – to note that the aspect of the latter is still subject to discussion among historians -, others abandon any cinematographic point of view and prefer to judge the actress on her origin. “I don’t hate Gal Gadot because she is a woman, I hate her because she is Zionist», Wrote one of them, in a compilation of tweets posted by the Union of Jewish Students of France. “Support for @GalGadot victim of a torrent of hate messages simply because, Jewish and Israeli, she dares to interpret #Cleopatre in the cinema. This is where cultural appropriation leads: when only religion and origin count, anti-Semitism is unleashed», Denounces the organization.

Elected Miss Israel in 2004, Gal Gadot completed two years of military service between his 18 and 20 years. It is this stealthy career in the armed forces of her country, accompanied by a stand against Hamas in 2014, that made her a target on the internet. Its role as Wonder Woman, in the eponymous 2017 film, had also created controversy, her past as a fighter crystallizing the anger of some Internet users.

SEE ALSO – Anti-Semitic and Nazi tags in a vandalized kosher restaurant in Paris


Commemoration of the attack in Halle: even more love

A year after the attack on the Halle synagogue, the victims were commemorated. The deed has not been forgotten, but the hatred has not won either.

Is combative: Max Privorozki (left), head of the Jewish community in Halle Photo: Ronny Hartmann / afp

HALLE / BERLIN taz | On Friday afternoon they stand in the courtyard of the Jewish synagogue in Halle: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey, Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff, Halle’s Lord Mayor Bernd Wiegand. The police have cordoned off the street, the politicians are unveiling a memorial, laying flowers and lowering their heads. Now are all there.

A year ago the Jewish community in Halle was still alone.

On October 9, 2019, shortly after 12 noon, right-wing extremist Stephan B. drove up to the synagogue, heavily armed. The congregation just celebrated Yom Kippur, their highest holiday there. The uniformed 28-year-old wanted to cause a massacre and broadcast it live on the Internet. Police were not on site at the time, and the community was not considered to be at risk. Stephan B. failed anyway, at the locked entrance door to the synagogue. But he shot two other people: the passer-by Jana L. and the painter trainee Kevin L., who was having lunch in the nearby Kiezdöner. The assassin continued to kill there, now out of racist hatred.

The deed was and is a beacon. Politicians reacted horrified and initiated packages of measures. The attack is still being negotiated before the Magdeburg Regional Court. On Friday, on the first anniversary, commemorations in Halle commemorated the act. At noon, at 12:01 p.m., the bells rang across the city. In the evening Steinmeier spoke in the Ulrichskirche, at the central memorial event, of “shame and anger”, which he continues to feel about the attack. Demanded better protection of Jewish institutions. And to show a stance against anti-Semitism. This is a seismograph for the state of democracy, said the Federal President. The more openly he expresses himself, the more strongly the values ​​of human dignity are challenged.

And it became clear: the wounds may not have healed, but hatred has not triumphed either.

Even after the attack, no services were canceled

In the afternoon, Max Privorozki, the community leader, also stands in the synagogue courtyard. He was in the prayer house during the attack, along with 51 other believers, some of whom have come from Berlin. After the attack, no service was canceled, said Privorozki in a conversation in advance. The first Shabbat was very well attended, including the Jewish Culture Days. And yet nothing was normal anymore. The believers received psychological support, politicians and journalists stormed the community.

Then came the corona pandemic. Initially, only 19 believers were allowed into the synagogue. The Passover festival was canceled for the first time since 1945, and the memory of the Shoah victims had to take place virtually. For the Jewish New Year, traditionally celebrated with a festive meal, there were only food parcels home.

“It is difficult to speak of normality,” says Privorozki. Most of all, people in their mid-fifties today are exhausted. He is startled when he hears helicopters in the sky – just like a year ago over the synagogue. New Year’s Eve was also a burden. The community itself has hardly spoken about the attack recently. But certainly about security issues. Recently, prayers alerted the police because a stranger was filming in front of the synagogue entrance. The incident had no consequences, but shows the tension.

The synagogue door becomes a monument

Lidia Edel is also standing in the synagogue courtyard this Friday. “Today everyone carries on with their life, but of course the attack stays in the back of everyone’s mind,” says the 20-year-old. Edel has been part of the Halle community for years, giving children and young people art lessons there – even if she is not Jewish at all. Noble, however, belongs to the city’s Eastern European community, which is strongly represented in the municipality. When the attack happened she was at home and a friend was in the synagogue. Edel heard about the attack from her – and how the door held out.

The door is the reason why Lidia Edel also takes part in the commemoration on Friday. Because it was she who designed the monument that has now been unveiled. Central element: the synagogue door, which was shot through and replaced a few weeks ago. “Everyone wanted the door not to go away. But nobody knew exactly what to do with it, ”says Edel. “That’s when I had the idea of ​​an artistic redesign, because the symbolic power of the door is obvious.” The community approved the suggestion.

The monument now shows the door, encircled by an oak tree in the shape of a hand. 52 sheets hang behind the door, two in front of it. They stand for the 52 believers who were in the synagogue during the attack – and for Jana L. and Kevin S. Two more sheets have been added, which stand for the other injured who Stephan B. shot at. The memorial should remember all of these victims, says Edel. “But it is also a warning not to suppress anything. And it shows that life goes on, that everything is a cycle. “

Just recently another attack in Hamburg

Life goes on, but the danger remains. The police counted 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes nationwide in 2019, an increase of 13 percent. Only recently did a man hit a young believer in front of a synagogue in Hamburg with a spade. Again he was in uniform, again on a public holiday, this time the Feast of Tabernacles. The memory of Halle was immediately there. The fear in the Jewish community too.

The believers who experienced the attack in Halle also last described in the Magdeburg trial how they were sometimes still in therapy, how they suffered from anti-Semitism. Christina Feist, a philosophy doctoral student who has since moved to Paris, said it was “the sad everyday life of our everyday life”. “In Germany I live in fear.” You and others also criticized the police: after the fact, officials treated them insensitively without knowing the traditions on Yom Kippur. And far too little has been determined about the right-wing extremist network of the assassin.

Max Privorozki at least praises the security situation of his synagogue today. “Cooperation with the police is now different,” he says. There is constant contact, the officials know about all activities of the community. A police container is in front of the synagogue. But the truth also includes: Behind the scenes, the Jewish community in Saxony-Anhalt negotiated a security agreement with the state until the end. And this despite the fact that the interior ministers had unanimously promised better protection of Jewish institutions after the attack.

Long struggle for security agreement

Even if Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) put another 22 million euros into the budget for this purpose: Some municipalities complain that they are petitioners to this day when it comes to their safety; would have to take care of fences or their own security personnel. Saxony-Anhalt announced an agreement on Tuesday: The state will completely protect Jewish facilities, pay for renovations and security personnel, and invest 2.4 million euros in this. You are entering “new territory” nationwide. Privorozki was satisfied – now it is a matter of implementing the open list of security modifications for his community. “There is still a lot to do.”

When the community celebrated Yom Kippur again almost two weeks ago, this time because of Corona in the city’s cultural meeting place, the police showed their presence. Some of the believers from Berlin were there again. Of course, he couldn’t get the attack out of his head, says Privorozki. They prayed for the murdered Jana and Kevin. But it was a relief to say the closing prayer of Yom Kippur this time – which he was no longer able to do a year ago.

Prime Minister Haseloff also attended the service at noon and gave a short speech. It was supposed to be a sign of solidarity, but not everyone took it that way. Christina Feist then complained about a “PR showpiece” that the prayers on Yom Kippur had again been disrupted. Privorozki contradicts: he himself invited the delegation, the speech was “a nice sign”.

An anti-Semitic submission by the Interior Minister

Still, it wasn’t the only dissonance in the end. Only a few days ago, Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of the Interior, Holger Stahlknecht, calculated the deployment times of police officers in front of Jewish institutions in the state – which would be missing elsewhere. An anti-Semitic steep template. Privorozki, who otherwise holds back politically, was outraged. “I couldn’t believe my ears.” The sentence is unbearable, it creates social unrest. And the community leader openly expresses this criticism on Friday at the commemoration in the Ulrichskirche, in which Stahlknecht also takes part.

After the attack, the community experienced one thing above all else: solidarity. When Privorozki recently testified at the Magdeburg trial, he reported on the rallies, the first on the day of the crime. The perpetrator belongs to an “absolute minority”. The majority would consist of “good people”.

At the commemoration on Friday in the synagogue courtyard, Privorozki also presented a thick book. This includes letters from all over the world that the community received after the attack, says the community leader. “That was encouraging.”

Solidarity among those affected

The victims of the attack also show solidarity with each other: some believers have now networked with those affected from the Kiezdöner. They spoke together at rallies, met this week for a festival in Berlin. On Wednesday, Privorozki informed the takeaway operator Ismet Tekin that his community would buy him food vouchers worth 1,000 euros. At the same time, the Jewish Student Union presented Tekin with just under 30,000 euros in donations that it had collected because business had faltered after the attack.

In the end, the attack also ensured: self-assertion. In the process, those affected repeatedly affirmed that they would continue their lives and their faith. Jewish life will continue to flourish in Germany. Ismet Tekin said to the assassin in the face: “You have failed all along the line. The result is even more solidarity and love. ”Privorozki also declared:“ After October 9th, I feel more at home here than before. ”

In his congregation, Yom Kippur believers remembered how the Jewish people never lost their optimism, even in the worst of times. It should apply again this time. On the holiday, the believers began to collect donations for a new Torah scroll.


Felix Klein one year after the attack in Halle: “Fears are back”

One year after the attack in Halle, the anti-Semitism officer Felix Klein worries about the Jewish community – and criticizes Saxony-Anhalt’s interior minister.

This is where the assassin failed a year ago: the door to the synagogue in Halle Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / dpa

taz: Mr. Klein, A year ago a right-wing extremist attacked the synagogue in Halle and killed two people. Do you remember how you found out about it back then?

Felix Klein: Yes, my wife and I were on the way from the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial back to Berlin. It was a shock to me as it was to everyone. We had just launched important structures against anti-Semitism, a federal-state commission, the Rias reporting system. And then that. I felt very powerless.

The perpetrator wanted to cause a massacre. Only the synagogue door prevented him from doing so. Would you have thought such an act possible?

I thought that an attack was possible. Especially when you saw how radical the tone was on the Internet. But I did not expect such a hateful, inhuman act in this dimension.

The synagogue was not protected by the police at the time. An unforgivable mistake?

It would have been unforgivable if it had happened willfully. But apparently the police didn’t even know that Yom Kippur was being celebrated there and that there was an increased need for security.

But that’s also a problem.

the lawyer and diplomat is the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism.

Yes of course. That was a negligence that is unacceptable. And this anti-Semitic attack, which ultimately cost the lives of two non-Jews, was also a turning point. He shook up the security authorities. Today the community in Halle is permanently guarded. And the police have evolved, the handling of religious holidays has improved.

A few days ago, however, a man attacked a believer in front of a synagogue in Hamburg, seriously injuring him. How safe do Jews still live in Germany?

Hamburg has shown that this time protective measures took effect. The police had the holiday on their radar there. And the police property guards immediately arrested the attacker and prevented further violence.

But not the attack on the young believer.

There can be no absolute protection. But of course the attack should be an occasion to re-examine the security measures in front of Jewish institutions.

So too little has happened since the attack in Halle?

In my opinion the opposite is the case. The federal government and the states are doing their utmost here. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has just made available 22 million euros for structural protection measures, and the federal states have also taken money into their hands again. In addition, the federal government has launched a comprehensive package of measures, such as the obligation to report online hate postings to the BKA, which I expect a lot from in the fight against anti-Semitism. Because the clientele backs away when they receive counter pressure and the police are at the door. And we saw in Halle that the root of the threat was radicalization on the Internet.

Is that enough? After the Hamburg attack, the Central Council of Jews once again called for more protection for religious institutions and a resolute social commitment against anti-Semitism.

There are certainly further opportunities for improvement. For example, I would like the police nationwide to know the Jewish calendar and on which occasions special protection is necessary. And it is also correct that the state cannot resolve the matter alone. This requires a courageous civil society that counteracts when anti-Semitism is expressed. That is the most important thing. I think the best protection would be if Jewish life were perceived much more as something that is taken for granted, as part of German diversity. We have to do more for that.

After the attack in Halle and the attack in Hambrug, the situation is different: the Jewish community feels seriously threatened.

Yes, that’s how I perceive it, she is very worried. And that is also very understandable. After politics reacted to Halle, my impression was that the community had settled down somewhat. But now the fears are back. We have to take that very seriously.

Isn’t that an indictment of poverty, especially for Germany with its history?

These concerns must alarm us, absolutely. The very fact that Jewish families are discussing whether they can continue to live in Germany is more than an alarm signal.

As the anti-Semitism commissioner, you report to the federal government. Don’t you have to put more pressure on in view of this?

We are making a significant effort. The Chancellor herself is also very committed. Everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation.

But many of those affected say: we don’t want more encouragement, we want to see action.

It has already existed. Many of the measures decided must now be implemented first. Nevertheless, there will be another catalog of measures shortly, from the cabinet committee to combat right-wing extremism.

Last year the number of anti-Semitic crimes rose by 13 percent to a good 2,000 crimes. What’s your explanation for that?

The increase is mainly due to the brutality on the Internet and the local incitement to hatred and Holocaust denial. But there is also a positive explanation: those affected report these incidents more strongly. This is a good development and something that I also encourage. Making hatred visible is the first step in combating it.

Why does such hatred always end up in anti-Semitic attacks?

That does not surprise me. Anti-Semitism is so practiced in our culture that it is used again and again, especially in times of uncertainty. Jews were blamed for the plague as far back as the Middle Ages; today this is repeated with the corona virus. This is really fatal.

Even Saxony-Anhalt’s Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (CDU) has just promoted anti-Semitism by referring to the times of police officers in front of Jewish buildings that were missing elsewhere.

To portray Jews as privileged people, for whom action would be taken at the expense of the general public, actually fuels anti-Semitism. It is not possible that groups are played off against each other. Unfortunately, Jewish communities need increased security, but that’s not because of the Jews, but because of the threats against them. And the state has a duty to ensure that they can practice their religion without restriction. I think he has to bear 100 percent of the security costs for this. Because this is a fundamental right.

Do you think anti-Semitism can one day be defeated?

It can at least be pushed back so far that the quality of life can be significantly improved. The whole of society benefits from this, not just the Jews. The vast majority in Germany is democratic and vigilant. That gives me hope.


Standing room forever (neue-deutschland.de)

From now on there is an altar in Kevin S.’s traditional place, which his father unveiled on Friday.

Photo: imago images / VIADATA

Halleschen FC’s stadium is never as empty as it was last Friday. The crescendo of an opera singer sounds out of the speakers where a stadium announcer announces the substitutions and the lead singers whip the fan curve.

The attack in Halle, in which two people died, was exactly a year ago. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s speech in the Ulrichskirche will be broadcast in various places in the city. Even in the football stadium. Because it hit one of them. About 30 people have gathered here. They look like football fans look like: denim frocks with lots of patches, tattoos and cigarettes. Everyone wears red: the club’s colors.

When the door of the synagogue in Halle held out on October 9, 2020 and the attempted mass murder of Jews on the holiday of Yom Kippur failed, the perpetrator decided to look for other victims. Kevin S. was hit, among others. He was shot in a snack bar. The 20-year-old is not a Jew, not a leftist, not an Islamist. None of those against whom the perpetrator Stephan B. was on the field that day.

20-year-old Kevin was a painter and football fan. Videos can be seen how he sings loudly: “This is the land of idiots who think love of home equals treason. We are not neo-Nazis and no anarchists, we are just the same as you, from here. «Even more than the songs of Freiwild, he sings the hymns of his association:» I’ll go for you, no matter where, chemistry you are my meaning in life. ” Halle has long been called Hallescher FC. The club plays in the third division. Parts of the fan scene are known for their right-wing attitudes. Once they attacked slices of an Asian diner and sprayed “Jude” on the walls. The group “Saalefront” was involved in numerous proceedings. The club also often had to pay for its fans. Many are now banned from stadiums.

“Saalefront” was also briefly on the Facebook profile of Kevin S. It is not known whether he shared right-wing ideologies. A friend of his, who is in the stadium in Halle that evening, says: “He was always left out when there was stress.”
How does the club deal with the fact that it hit one of them? An altar will be inaugurated in the stadium on Friday. Where Kevin S. always stood while his FC played, flowers and a gold plaque remind of the victim of the attack. It will now have a place forever, not just in the hearts of fans.

The memorial was inaugurated by club president Jens Rauschenbach and Kevin’s father. He remembers the last phone call with his son exactly, said the 44-year-old scaffolding builder recently in court in the trial against the perpetrator. Kevin asked him if he could eat a doner kebab during his lunch break, even though his mother had forbidden it out of concern about his weight. “Okay,” he said, “get your kebab, but this is the last one this week.”

Kevin S. was born with a disability. Doctors predicted a life expectancy of ten years. His father never believed it. After various internships, the son gets an apprenticeship as a painter. In the fan scenes of Merseburg and Halle he finds home, friends and security. “You protected him,” says the father. That Kevin finds friends, goes to away games by himself, fits into a community, finds an apprenticeship position, many did not trust him at the time of his diagnosis. The father repeats one sentence over and over again: “I was very proud!”

The painting company where Kevin S. begins his training is not far from the Kiez kebab shop. Shortly after the phone call with his father, a heavily armed attacker attacks the store. Kevin S. pleaded for his life, but it was taken from him anyway. At the other end of the room where he was shot, mourners have set up an altar. There are red scarves, stickers and pennants hanging there. There are signatures on a shirt. The back number: Two tilted eights. Infinite. You will not forget him.

Several fan groups come to the snack bar during the anniversary and eat kebab. There is a lot of beer being drunk and even more weeping. Operators and fans greet each other with a handshake. Grief connects. But alongside this a split can be felt. Many people who see themselves as leftists are also here. They are on the phone frantically to prepare memorial events. You are writing speeches for a rally. You eye each other – also skeptically. If you met at night, maybe one party would cross the street.

There are also different views on the commemoration among the fans. In the evening in the stadium, a small group stands on the edge of the action. One of them, with a shaved head and two large tunnels in his ears, is annoyed: The “dignitaries who have traveled” are primarily concerned with the synagogue, but the victims were different. And that should be mourned.

Another vehemently contradicts: They were the victims, but the attack was aimed at the synagogue. The man says he met Jana L., the second victim, more often. He did not know Kevin S. That both were murdered in a “cowardly way” is tragic. “But it was an anti-Semitic attack,” he says aloud.

At the next home game, the club wants to remember the victims again. This Monday the team will play against Zwickau in a special jersey. “Never again – together against oblivion” should be written there. People argue about the form of remembering in Halle, and not just in the fan curve.

A young woman with brightly colored hair breaks away from the group of arguing fans. “It might look different now, but the lesson has already been learned here,” she says. What lesson is that? “Oh, you already know that,” she says, and disappears into a rainy night.