Sunday, November 7, 2021

Anti-semitism and hate are the new borders within Europe

In Europe, borders hardly play a role anymore. They have been overcome without destroying people's national or regional identities. "But there were and are internal borders," said Rabbi Andreas Nachama at the "Europe Bottom-Up" conference of the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin on November 8, 2021 in Berlin. People are still excluded, experience hatred, racism or anti-Semitism. We document the full speech of the historian:

"We are here a stone's throw from the Brandenburg Gate. It was said: "As long as the gate is closed, the European question is open." In fact, it was a sharp, extremely divisive border that kept that gate virtually closed from at least 1961 to 1989. And this border separated not only this city or this country, but in fact all of Europe into East and West.

When Nazi Germany was defeated in Europe on May 8, 1945, one could sum up that in Europe, with the exception of a few "neutral" states, no country had been spared, there was hardly a family that did not have to mourn victims. It is true that before 1939 Europe was a continent with sharp borders and very lively nationalisms, but the borders had not protected. The Paris Peace Treaties of 1919 were not worth the paper they were written on, for between 1919 and 1939 there were a considerable number of localized but still warlike conflicts in Europe. Then, after 1945, both in the East and in the West, people realized that borders did not protect, but rather exacerbated divisive conflicts. The list of memorials and commemorative sites for the victims of Nazi violence in Germany and Europe is long, and the list of victims' names eight decades after the end of this tyranny has not been written to an end.

Resurgence of anti-Semitism

Today, however, and especially after 1989, Europe is almost united from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, from Sicily to the North Cape. And it is not the Europe of the Nazis or of any hegemonic power. It is our Europe, the Europe of Europeans, the Europe of our cities and regions. Borders hardly play a role anymore. They have been overcome without destroying people's national or regional identity.

But there were and are internal borders. If in the first almost five decades in the 20th century it was Jews, Sinti and Roma, Slavs or Eastern Europeans in general, patients and other minorities who were marginalized and persecuted in Europe, especially by fascists, or even persecuted with a murderous hatred, as in Europe occupied by Nazi Germany, today it is Sinti and Roma, but above all Muslims, who are the object of also murderous hatred, in addition to a newly reviving anti-Semitism.

Exclusion of Muslims

If in the decades of European division the Brandenburg Gate here in Berlin symbolized this painful border between people, today it is the religious exclusion of Muslims in particular. Against this background, Gregor Hohberg, a Protestant pastor who before 1989 was one of those in the GDR who stood up with a candle in his hand against the oppression in East Germany, came up with the idea of creating a HOUSE OF ONE.


On the ground plan of a Protestant church destroyed during the Second World War by an Allied bombing raid and finally demolished in the mid-1960s, a house of prayer and teaching is to be built. Here a church, a synagogue and a mosque are to be connected by a space of common connections under one roof. In this place, each should be able to pray, learn and exchange with each other in their own tradition, but united in the common task, united by peaceful solidarity. Externally, the representatives of the three religions will enter into contact with the secular city society or with those of other faiths, in order to show here, too: it is not a matter of borders, it is not a matter of demarcations, but a matter of joint responsibility for social coexistence - peace without borders!

We understand our project, which is being created here in the absolute center of Berlin, especially after the experiences of the last century, as a project for a better Europe. Our enthusiasm carries and justifies the House on One. Our pride is to contribute with it also to a successful Europe. That is why we feel comfortable in this initiative "Europe Bottom-up" - together with all those who see themselves in the responsibility to help build this new Europe "from below". The House of One is a best practice model of a European project "from below", "bottom-up".