As deadly anti-Semitism forces Jews to make a mass exodus from France, one fearless man in Munich, Germany, has been donning a kippah for the past two years to show, in his view, that the nation which was home to the most horrific genocide of modern times is now a safe place for Jews–even safer than America.
“If I think Germany’s that unsafe for Jews I have no business being here,” journalist Terry Swartzberg said to Germany-based news site The Local. Swartzberg, 61, is from America and moved to Germany in 1979. He said he had not experienced any anti-Semitism over the course of the 27 months he’s been wearing his kippah; a reality that is starkly different from a Jewish man in Paris recently or another in Copenhagen prior to that.
According to The Local, Swartzberg said he was inspired to wear the kippah two years ago at the funeral of a friend, Mietek Pemper, a Holocaust survivor who helped Oskar Schindler compile his famous list. Upon leaving the cemetery, all the Jews removed their yarmulkes except him. “I walked out wearing it, and they start screaming at me, you’re putting us all in danger.”
Swartzberg suggested that Germany is a much safer place for Jewish people than America is, although he does not discount the presence of racism. “I know what anti-Semitism is,” he told The Local, citing how he “grew up in America, where 34% of people describe themselves as being anti-Semitic” and that he “went to school in India and worked as a journalist in Hong Kong.”
Yet he noted that “it’s such a cheap shot and so unfair [to say Jews aren’t safe in Germany], because Germany has done amazing things that I wish my own country, the USA would do.”
Swartzberg told The Local that he intends to continue wearing his kippah as part of his campaign to proudly push Jewish identity in Munich. He is also the president of Stolpersteine, which seeks to commemorate Holocaust victims with brass memorial plaques that are placed outside of victims’ former homes.
“I work every day for the Stolpersteine, I know what Germany did and I will never let Germans forget,” Swartzberg said.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.