While most Americans associate Das Lied der Deutschen (The Song of the Germans) with the Nazis, more than a few Yanks would be somewhat surprised to know it’s still the official national anthem of the Federal Republic. What may catch more than a few off guard would be the knowledge that during pro-German rallies recently held throughout the republic, it’s just not that unusual to see marchers carrying placards and flags bearing the Star of David. Among those belting out the words “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” are those of Jewish lineage and faith (see video).
As reported by the i24 News news portal (of Tel Aviv, Israel) on May 30, 2015, a number of Jews have joined in with the PEGIDA pro-German/anti-Islam grassroots movement. Germany’s Deutsche Welle news service extensively reported on the tens of thousands of Germans of all persuasions who took to the streets to protest what they term the Islamization of Germany. PEGIDA stands for Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.
Among those are German-Jews who have tagged themselves “JewGida”. A member of the group, a German with Jewish roots, who identified himself only as Michael out of fear for his own safety, has become an active member of the PEGIDA Berlin chapter, was quite frank when he explained why he even joined the group. “There’s a new wave of anti-Semitism in Germany and it’s in large part imported, specifically by Muslim immigrants,” he said.
“We are not against Muslims or their rights,” emphasized Michael. “We just don’t want Islam to become part of our judicial and social systems. Muslims are the only minority which demands more and more rights, but just because they are the loudest, doesn’t mean they should be allowed to molest others with their believes. They are free to practice their religion at home, but you can’t move to a different country and expect that society to adapt to you. The amount of concessions made for them is already frightening.”
Another member that asked he only be identified by his first name, Sam is a 60-year-old American Jew who has resided in Germany for the past 26 years, was inspired to get involved following a speech of an Israeli activist, Rotem Avituv, at a PEGIDA rally in Frankfurt in January of 2014. Avituv, who was later criticized severely in Israel for “pardoning the Germans,” called on his listeners to save their country from Islam. Sam believes his appearance – as does the work of JewGida – has the potential to be more effective. “Jews can say things Germans can’t. If a German would say that, he would be called a Nazi. But if a Jew does that – people might listen.”
Despite a handful of Neo-Nazis attempting to associate themselves with the PEGIDA movement, the group’s official German language Facebook site makes clear the group rejects Naziism. Other than rejecting their nation’s National Socialist past, they also reject Communism, the Islamic jihad movement, and the hard-left leaning and often violent Kurdistan Workers’ Party, commonly referred to by its Kurdish acronym, PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê), which is active in Germany.
In spite of Hitler targeting Jews as well as other ethnic and religious groups, the history of Jews serving their adopted homeland actually dates as far back as the 13th century, continuing to the present day. Little known in the West is the history of German-Jews who fought for Kaiser and Fatherland during the First World War.
Fully one-fifth of the Jewish population of Germany (100,000 out of 500,000) served in either the Imperial Army, Navy or Colonial Troops. At least one German-Jew was awarded the Pour le Mérite (nicknamed the “Blue Max”), Germany’s equivalent to the US Medal of Honor. Over 100 were also awarded the prestigious Iron Cross for personal heroism on the battlefield.
One of the 12,000 German-Jews who were killed in action was Offizier-Stellvertreter Immanuel Saul, who penned the poem “For My Children” in which despite overt anti-Jewish sentiment, Germany will always be considered their Fatherland:
Now the present troubles touch me deep in my heart.
A wish becoming unified, a single sacred longing,
An inspiration. Jews and Teutons—
That we are German, no proof is needed.
Because the Jews of their own volition gladly
Rally around the flag of their Fatherland.
For me to gain—be it, if it falls to my lot,
Even with my own blood—the Fatherland,
Which to myself and my brothers, alas, alas,
Often has been a Stepfatherland….