New German foreign minister says he entered politics because of Auschwitz

Germany’s new foreign minister said on Wednesday that he entered politics because of the Holocaust.

“For me, German-Israeli history does not only entail a historic responsibility. For me personally, it is a deep motivation of my political activity,” Heiko Maas said at his inauguration at the German Foreign Office headquarters in Berlin.

“With all due respect, I did not enter politics because of [former chancellor] Willy Brandt. I also didn’t go into politics because of the peace movement or ecological issues. I entered politics because of Auschwitz. And that’s also why this part of our work is especially important to me,” he said.

Maas, who served as justice minister in the last German government, used the event to announce that he would be visiting Israel “soon.”

The 51-year-old Social Democrat had been scheduled to speak at the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, which is taking place next week in Jerusalem. But organisers said on Wednesday that it was still unclear whether Maas would be able to attend the conference.

Most noteworthy, the new government vows to install a special commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and for combating antisemitism.

In its mission statement, Germany’s new coalition government of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats promised to “fight decisively against antisemitism and likewise confront anti-Islamic streams.”

“We are committed to supporting the Jewish communities. We are grateful that after the Holocaust a rich Jewish life has developed in Germany. After the deprivation of rights and the murder of six million European Jews, we Germans have an everlasting responsibility in the fight against antisemitism.”


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