EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Angela Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor of Germany is drawing to a close. While she has always shown great empathy for Germany’s Jews, her 2015 decision to open the country’s gates to migrants led to the influx of approximately a million and a half people (so far), mainly from Muslim countries, which has in turn strengthened Germany’s longstanding anti-Semitism. Helmut Kohl, who was CDU chancellor from 1982-98, enabled the strengthening of the German Jewish community through major immigration from Russia. Merkel’s legacy, by contrast, may well be a substantial diminishment of the German Jewish community through emigration.
As of a few weeks ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is no longer chair of the Christian Democrat Party (CDU), and she will not stand for the chancellorship – a position she has held since 2005 – after the next elections. As her tenure at Germany’s helm is drawing to a close, the media have started to analyze her performance and speculate about her legacy.
This is thus a good moment to begin to look at Merkel’s legacy with regard to Germany’s Jews. Previous CDU leader Helmut Kohl, who served as chancellor from 1982-98, enabled an estimated 170,000 Russian Jews to immigrate to Germany. As a result of 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, however, barely more than 0.1% of Germany’s population).