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Religious Tolerance logo


Religiously motivated violence

2019-OCT-11: Shooter near a
German Synagogue kills two:

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There were 1,646 recorded anti-semitic events in Germany during 2018. That was an increase of 10% over the previous year. 62 violent offences ocurred during 2018 that left 43 people injured; this was a increase from 37 acts of violence during 2017. 1

A survey during 2019-JUL, sponsored by the World Jewish Congress, found that 27% of German adults admit to having anti-semitic thoughts. The percentage of people surveyed who actually had anti-semitic thoughts but who are unwilling to admit this to a stranger over the phone who claims to be from an anonymous polling agency is unknown, but is probably a significant value. Also, 41% feel that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust during World War II when five to six million Jews in Europe -- about 60% of the pre-Holocaust population --were murdered by the Nazi Government under Adolf Hitler. 8 About 25% of present-day German adults consider it possible that "something like the Holocaust can repeat itself in Germany today." 2

Yet there are only 200,000 persons of Jewish backgound currently living among the 83 million German population -- about one quarter of one percent. 3

Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, believes that anti-Semitism haas reached a crisis point in Germany. He said:

"It is time for the whole of German society to take a stand and fight anti-Semitism head-on. ... Germany has a unique obligation to prevent the return of intolerance and hatred. If more than a quarter of society identifies with anti-Semitism, it is time for the remaining three quarters to defend democracy and [promote] tolerant societies."

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2019-OCT-09: A lone gunman attacked a synagogue in Halle, Germany:

Halle is the fifth largest city in the former East Germany. Stephan Balliet, 27, a German national, is beleived by police to be the gunman who attacked a small synagogue there, about noon on Wednesday, OCT-09. His attack was timed to ocurr during a Jewish service for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). This is the holiest day of the Jewish year, when religious Jews ask God for forgiveness for their sins. It is also called the "Sabbath of Sabbaths." 4

He broadcast the attack live over the Internet using a camera mounted on his helmet, using the Twitch live streaming video platform. During the 35 minute video, he referred to himself by the name "Anon" which is an abbreviation for "anonymous." He identified himself as a Holocaust denier. He also said:

"Feminism is the cause of declining birth rates in the West, which acts as a scapegoat for mass immigration, and the root of all these problems is the Jew."

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It seems impossible to me that Jews, who form only one quarter of one percent of the population of Germany could significantly influence the birth rate across the entire country.

He unsuccessfully tried to batter his way through the front door of the synagogue In Halle using home-made grenades and a rifle. He shot a woman, aged 40, who happened to be passing by the synagogue. She later died from the multiple bullet wounds. He went to a kebab restaurant about 600 meters (2,000 feet) from the synagogue, and killed a man who had tried to take refuge there. The police chased the shooter in his car. He shot at and wounded a married couple when the husband refused to give him the keys to a car. He wounded a woman and man in their early 40's in Landsberg, Germany. Police converged on him in Zeitz, Germany. They wounded Balliet, and arrested him. He later confessed to the murders and confirmed his "far-right and anti-Semitic motives." 5,6 He also appeared before a judge of the Federal Court of Justice and repeated his confession. He had left a manifesto written in English on the Internet stating his intent to "Kill as many anti-Whites as possible, Jews preferred."

Some politician blamed the leaders of the far-right "Alternative for Germany" (AFD) political party for inciting extremists. 9

The Twitch editors issue a statement saying:

"We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected.

Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We are working with urgency to remove this content and permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act."

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a statement, saying in part:

"The terror attack against the Jewish community of Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, the holiest day for our people, is another manifestation of the anti-Semitism in Europe. In the name of the Jewish people, we send our deepest condolences to the grieving families and wish speedy recovery to the injured."

The Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, said:

"We are stunned and pained by the terrible anti-Semitic murders in Germany today, during the holiest and most important day of the year for all Jews around the world. I call on the leaders of Germany and the free world to bring the full force of law against anti-Semitism and its results."

The US Embassy in Berlin tweeted:

"We strongly condemn the attack on the synagogue in Halle today, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. This attack is an attack on all of us and the perpetrators must be held accountable. We mourn the victims of this senseless violence."

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, issued a statement, saying:

"We strongly condemn the attack on the synagogue in #Halle today, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. This attack is an attack on all of us and the perpetrators must be held accountable. We mourn the victims of this senseless violence." 8

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More reactions to the shootings:

On OCT-09, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a vigil at a Berlin synagogue.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that on Sunday, 2019-OCT-15 the German group "Unteilbar: ("Invisible") organized a major rally in the city of Halle, saying that:

"More than 10,000 people marched in Berlin against anti-Semitism and in a show of support for the victims of anti-Semitic violence."

Smaller marches were held in Hamburg, Marburg, and other German cities. 9

On OCT-10, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, and the corresponding 16 ministers at the various German states, have agreed to implement ten government measures to combat violent anti-semitic attacks:

  • Identify networks, individuals: Coordinate federal and state intelligence and develop a strategy for observing and addressing potential far-right terror cells online and offline.

  • Expand cooperation: Allow police and intelligence to work more closely to share arrest information and coordinate activities as part of a task force¬†against right-wing extremism.

  • Protect synagogues: Have officials liaise with Jewish representatives to secure places of worship, including posting officers outside, as is the case in many cities across Germany.

  • Utilize bans on associations: Enforce existing prohibitions on organizations whose philosophies and/or actions run contrary to German law, and identify new groups to target with such measures.

  • Prohibit extremist events: Identify sporting gatherings, concerts and cultural affairs that are primarily cover for far-right and anti-Semitic networking and celebration, and prevent them from occurring.

  • Legal flexibility: Adapt laws to monitor and disrupt extremist communications; require networks and platforms to delete illegal content and host servers in the EU; evaluate hate speech and weapons prohibitions.
  • Ensure adequate resources: Federal and state governments should allocate all within their means to law enforcement and intelligence to prevent further anti-Semitic attacks.
  • Expedite cases: Handle investigations of anti-Semitic crime as quickly as possible, and initiate without delay a requirement for platforms to report prohibited content.
  • Targeted prevention: Launch de-radicalization programs developed in cooperation with Jewish groups.

  • No extremism in public service: Identify far-right members of government agencies, as well as intelligence, law enforcement and the military. 10

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Violent anti-Semitic attacks in Germany increase by 60%," The Local, 2019-FEB-13, at:
  2. "A quarter of Germans have anti-Semitic thoughts, new survey finds," The Local, 2019-OCT-24, at:
  3. Toby Axelrod, "‘We Are Not Aliens’: Jewish Outreach Efforts in Germany," Hadassah Magazine, 3019-MAR, at:
  4. "What is Yom Kippur ..." USA Today, 2017-SEP-29, at:
  5. Lizzie Dearden, "Germany synagogue shooting: Gunman kills multiple people in Halle attack, Independent, 2019-OCT-09, at:
  6. Elisabeth Zerofsky, "A terrorist attack on Yom Kippur in Halle, Germany," The New Yorker, 2019-OCT-13, at:
  7. "German government warns of 'elevated' risk of far-right attacks after anti-Semitic shooting," The Local, 2019-OCT-12, at:
  8. "Holocaust victims," Wikipedia, as on 019-OCT-26, at:
  9. Marcy Oster, "Thousands march in Berlin against anti-semitism," Jewish Journal, 2019-OCT-15. at:
  10. "German officials present plan to combat anti-Semitic violence, far-right extremism," DW Akademie, 2019-OCY-18, at:

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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2019-OCT-27
Latest update: 2019-OCT-28
Author: B.A. Robinson
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