Bonn/Halle/Saale Following the antisemitic attack in Halle, Germany, Mayor Ashok Sridharan spoke of a strong bond with the Jewish community. Meanwhile, there are police guarding the synagogue in Bonn around the clock.
Following the right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic attack in Halle, security measures in NRW have been massively strengthened. According to information provided to our editorial staff, the number of Jewish facilities which are now guarded around the clock by the police has been increased from three to 26. Among them are synagogues, Jewish community and senior centers and Jewish day-care centers.
27-year-old Stephan B. had tried to penetrate the synagogue in Halle with explosive devices and firearms on Wednesday afternoon. He failed to do so at the specially protected entrance door, instead turning his weapon on a passer-by and then a man in a kebab snack bar, killing both. The Attorney General's Office classifies the act as right wing terrorism and believes that B. wanted to carry out a massacre among the faithful in the synagogue. Another four kilograms of explosives were found in his car.
On Thursday, a day after the deadly attack in Halle, associations and organizations close to the Jewish community in Bonn were showing their solidarity. In an open letter, the Protestant leader Eckart Wüster expressed his condolences: "On behalf of the Protestant church of Bonn, I would like to use this opportunity to share with you our horror at the terrible attack in Halle. We can very well imagine the fears of the members of the Jewish community gathered in that synagogue. And of all times, (it happened) on Yom Kippur!" It is incomprehensible "that anti-Semitism, that the willingness to use violence and excessive violence seem ineradicable. Our thoughts are with you and with the victims and their relatives," he wrote to Margaret Traub and Oleg Goloborodsky from the parish council on behalf of all members.
Joachim Gerhardt, Chairman of the Board of the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation, reported a "noticeable unease within the association". Members had expressed their concern about the crime, described by Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht as a "right-wing extremist terrorist attack".
A Bonn association responsible for a Nazi period documentation center and a victims’ memorial is "bewildered". The state and society must assume their responsibility to strengthen the process of coming to terms with the Nazi past, racism and anti-Semitism. Anne Flume from the German-Israeli Society (DIG) in Bonn spoke of a "feeling of powerlessness" after an exchange with Jewish friends. Members of the DIG in Bonn and Cologne were called upon to take part in a solidarity rally on Thursday evening at 6 p.m., along with other anti-semitic organizations to "Stop Anti-Semitic Terrorism".
Bonn's Mayor Ashok Sridharan declared: "The attack on the synagogue in Halle fills me with disgust (at the attack) and sorrow for the dead. I know that I am speaking on behalf of the whole city when I assure you, our Jewish fellow citizens of Bonn, that we stand by your side and feel deeply connected to you".
As reported, security was already reinforced on Wednesday after the attack became known. That evening, the Bonn congregation celebrated its biggest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. At a vigil, about 30 people gathered in front of the synagogue to express their solidarity.
The Bonn police will guard the synagogue in Tempelstraße around the clock until further notice. In front of the synagogue there were also officers armed with submachine guns on Thursday. In general, Jewish institutions are under special observation, police patrol them regularly. At present, with a focus on the incidents in Halle, one is "further sensitized in order to be able to react quickly", said police spokesman Robert Scholten.
Orig. text: Philipp Königs, Nicolas Ottersbach, Gregor Mayntz. Translation: ck