German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ceded the chairperson position of the Christian Democrat Party (CDU), and announced that after the next elections — at the latest in 2021 — she will not put herself forward to be a candidate to head the German government. The media has already started to analyze her performance and speculate about her legacy.
This is also an adequate moment to begin looking at Merkel’s legacy in regard to Germany’s Jews. Helmut Kohl, the previous CDU leader, who served as chancellor from 1982-1998, enabled an estimated 170,000 Russian Jews to immigrate to Germany. Due largely to that policy, Germany once again has a significant Jewish community. The country’s organized Jewish community currently has close to 100,000 members, which is barely more than 0.1% of Germany’s population.
Merkel has never failed on general support of and rhetoric towards Germany’s Jews. In November of this year, she spoke at the major Berlin Rykestrasse synagogue on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, saying, “Jewish life is blossoming again in Germany. An unexpected gift to us after the Shoah … but we are also witnessing a worrying antisemitism that threatens Jewish life in our country.” She also said that violence against Jews — perpetrated by far-right militias or Muslim extremists — is on the rise in Germany.