German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday lauded the contribution of Jews to German culture but also admitted that Jewish life is threatened in the face of open anti-Semitism and said it is necessary to counter it.
"Whether in philosophy, literature, art and music, science, medicine or business, Jews have been instrumental in writing and shaping our history and illuminating our culture," Steinmeier said at a ceremony marking 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany at a synagogue in Cologne, according to Deutsche Welle.
He added that history of the Jews in Germany is "one of emancipation and prosperity, but also of humiliation, exclusion and disenfranchisement."
The German President said that Judaism has made a decisive contribution to Germany's transition into the modern age.
He recalled the centuries of marginalization and persecution of Jews and called for an "honest look" at Jewish history.
"That is the only way we can learn lessons for the present and for the future. That is and remains our responsibility," added Steinmeier.
The President’s remarks came days after the German government said that the number of registered anti-Semitic hate crimes in Germany hit a new upward trend in 2020.
The authorities have logged at least 2,275 crimes with an anti-Semitic background until the end of January 2021. Some 55 of those were acts of violence.
Only five suspects were detained by the authorities, despite police investigating 1,367 cases. No arrest warrants have been issued.
Anti-Semitic crimes have risen steadily in Germany in recent years. According to data released last May, Germany recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic crimes nationwide since 2001 in 2019, with the vast majority of the anti-Jewish crimes reported ascribed to far-right wing perpetrators.