Steinmeier ‘determined’ to protect Jewish life in Germany


President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on people to fight against rising anti-Semitism in Germany, during the opening of a new synagogue in Potsdam, just outside Berlin.

“I am determined not to rest, so that we in our country can do everything we can to protect Jewish life and combat all forms of anti-Semitism,” Steinmeier said.

“Jewish life is a part of us! Only when Jews feel completely at home in Germany will this country feel completely at home.”

The opening of the synagogue and the Jewish community center is seen as an important signal against hatred and incitement, especially in times of rising anti-Semitism.

Since the attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement last October, hostility towards Jews in Germany has increased.

“Germany remains a home for Jews. That is what I personally stand for and that is what the majority of all Germans – I assure you – stand for,” Steinmeier said.

Four Jewish communities will share the new religious and cultural center in the historic center of Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg. One Jewish community did not apply. The old synagogue was destroyed in 1945.

This makes Potsdam the last capital of Germany that still has a synagogue.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor and Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke also took part in the inauguration ceremony.

According to a government spokesman, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was not present as a guest for scheduling reasons.

The state of Brandenburg spent about €17.5 million ($18.9 million) on the new building with its sand-colored brick facade. The project was fraught with difficulties and was marred by long-running disputes between the Jewish communities, which represent different religious movements.

The synagogue center is run by the Central Welfare Office of Jews in Germany (ZWST) for three years. In addition to prayer rooms, there is an event hall, a visitors’ café, a library, offices, and music and art rooms. The building is heavily secured.

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