A quarter of Germans have anti-Semitic thoughts, new survey finds

A new survey by the World Jewish Congress found that a quarter of the German population have what they call 'anti-Semitic thoughts'.

A quarter of Germans have anti-Semitic thoughts, new survey finds
A man wearing a kippa in Berlin. Photo: DPA

A full 27 percent of all Germans and 18 percent of a population group categorized as “elite” – or university graduates with an annual income of at least €100,000 – have anti-Semitic thoughts, according to the survey. 

Another 41 percent think that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust, the representative survey of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), reported in German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, showed. 

Yet every fourth interviewee considered it possible that “something like the Holocaust can repeat itself in Germany today”.

The WJC, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities and organizations from more than 100 countries, had interviewed 1,300 people around Germany two and a half months before the attack on the synagogue in Halle.

READ ALSO: What we know about the synagogue shooting in Halle

The overwhelming majority of the population furthermore sees growing anti-Semitism as a trend, and associates it with the success of right-wing extremist parties. 

The connection is recognized by 65 percent of Germans and 76 percent of the “elite.”

Twenty-eight percent of them claim that Jews have too much power in the economy, while 26 percent think that they have “too much power in world politics” – statements that belong to the classic repertoire of anti-Semitism. 

Almost half of them (48 percent) claim that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Germany.

Growing willingness to take action

At the same time, according to the study, there is a growing willingness in Germany to take action against anti-Semitism. 

Two thirds of the “elite” would sign a petition against it, and one third of all respondents would take to the streets against anti-Semitism. 

About 60 percent felt that Jews are exposed to a risk of violence or hateful verbal attacks. Nevertheless, only 44 percent at the time were concerned about violence against Jews or Jewish institutions.

READ ALSO: 'Drastic increase' of violent anti-Semitic attacks in Berlin, according to figures

The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, said that anti-Semitism had reached a crisis point in Germany. 

“It is time for the whole of German society to take a stand and fight anti-Semitism head-on,” said Lauder. 

“Germany has a unique obligation to prevent the return of intolerance and hatred. If more than a quarter of society identifies with anti-Semitism, it is time for the remaining three quarters to defend democracy and tolerant societies.”

READ ALSO: 'It doesn't change my feeling about Germany': Jewish community fearful but defiant after Halle attack


University graduates – (die) Hochschulabsolventen

Growing anti-Semitism – Wachsender Antisemitismus

statements/assertions – (die) Aussagen 

A unique obligation – eine einmalige Verpflichtung

Defend – verteidigen

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. The survey that is the basis of this news item is a bit tenuous. One suspects that a similar proportion of French, British, Italian, Spanish and Eastern European’s harbour the same views as Germans. The difference is that Germans are more honest in answering survey questions. Furthermore, an increasing challenge is the ever widening definition of anti-semitism. For example, one can now be labelled anti-Semitic for criticising Israeli policies of appropriating Arab lands on the West Bank. The whole thing is a minefield.
    My personal observations are that one is far more likely to attract the attention of the law for genuine anti-semitism in Germany than in most other European countries and that can only be a good thing.

  2. A quick google tells me that about 20% of Americans polled as antisemitic. So it seems that is just the ambient level.

  3. Every nation is anti-semitic. Everybody fears the cultures they don’t know. Considering Germany was rushed by a wave of migrants the last few years, it’s normal they feel fear and anguish. That’s why they might answer that they don’t want strangers in their country because they didn’t ask for them.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Outrage in Germany after remains of neo-Nazi buried in empty Jewish grave

The burial of a known neo-Nazi's ashes in the former grave of a Jewish musical scholar has sparked outrage in Germany, and prompted Berlin's anti-Semitism official to file a criminal complaint.

Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th.
Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The remains of the neo-Nazi were buried at the grave of Max Friedlaender in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, with several figures from the extreme-right scene in attendance at the funeral on Friday.

Samuel Salzborn, anti-Semitism official for Berlin, said late Tuesday that he had filed a criminal complaint because “the intention here is obvious – the right-wing extremists deliberately chose a Jewish grave to disturb the peace of the dead by burying a Holocaust denier there”.

He added that “it must now be quickly examined how quickly the Holocaust denier can be reburied in order to no longer disturb the dignified memory of Max Friedlaender”.

Friedlaender died in 1934 – when Adolf Hitler was already in power – and was buried in the graveyard as his religion was given as ‘Protestant’ in the burial registration slip

His grave was cleared upon expiration in 1980 and opened up for new burials, under common practice for plots after a certain amount of time has passed.

Friedlaender’s gravestone however remains standing as the entire cemetery is protected under monument conservative rules.


The Protestant Church managing the graveyard voiced dismay at the incident.

In a statement, it said it had accepted the request for burial at the empty grave because “everyone has a right for a final resting place”.

“Nevertheless, the choice of the former grave of Max Friedlaender is a mistake. We are looking into this mistake now,” the church said in a statement.

At the funeral, a black cloth was laid over Friedlaender’s tombstone while wreathes and ribbons bearing the Nazi-era iron cross symbol were laid on the grave for the neo-Nazi Henry Hafenmayer.

Prominent Holocaust denier Horst Mahler, who has been convicted for incitement, was among dozens at the funeral.

Police deployed at the funeral were able to arrest a fugitive from the far-right scene there, German media reported.

Several war graves stand at the cemetery at Stahnsdorf, and these sites are known in far-right circles, the Protestant church administrating the graveyard admitted.

It added that it has worked closely with police to hinder several neo-Nazi marches there in recent years.

READ ALSO: German hotel workers probed after singer’s anti-Semitism complaint