Head of German Jewish community revealed to be non-Jewish

The case of Wolfgang Seibert’s alleged fake Jewish identity is not the first instance of non-Jewish Germans falsely depicting their religious background.

October 21, 2018 15:38
2 minute read.
Head of German Jewish community revealed to be non-Jewish

Supporters of the Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) hold German flags during a protest in Berlin, Germany May 27, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)


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The 71-year-old chairman of the small Jewish community in the city of Pinneberg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein faces an accusation from the magazine Der Spiegel that he is not Jewish, deceiving Jewish members since 2003.

Spiegel reported in this week’s issue that Wolfgang Seibert fabricated his Jewish origin and is a Protestant whose family members fought for Nazi Germany in World War II against the allied powers.

Seibert said he will consult with his attorney before issuing a public comment, adding that the contention that he plans to resign is false.

The Jewish community in Pinneberg, a city of more than 42,000 residents, numbers 250 members.

According to Spiegel, Seibert was born in 1947 as the son of the Protestant parents, and was baptized three days later. The magazine wrote that his grandparents were also Protestant.

Seibert claims that his grandmother, Anna Katharina Schmidt, whose birth last name was Marx, survived Auschwitz. The magazine wrote Seibert’s claim about his grandmother cannot be true because her grandfather was Protestant.

Jewish ancestors are not likely, added Spiegel, because Seibert’s grandfather on his father’s side was an officer in World War II and his father was an infantryman for Hitler’s army.

Seibert was previously convicted a number of times for fraud and embezzlement. 

Seibert, according to the paper Die Welt, garnered media attention in 2014 when the Jewish community provided “asylum” for a Muslim refugee. The Pinneberg Jewish community represents liberal Judaism and Seibert has advocated Jewish-Christian dialogue over the years.

The case of Seibert’s alleged fake Jewish identity is not the first instance of non-Jewish Germans falsely depicting their religious background.

A number of cases of Germans, who pretended to be Jews and attacked the Jewish state, have surfaced over the years.

The Jerusalem Post revealed in 2016 a teacher, Christoph Glanz, in the German state of Lower Saxony, advocated a complete boycott of Israel posed as a Jew to sign a petition calling for all Palestinian refugees to be returned to the Jewish state.

The petition, titled “Jews for Palestinian Right of Return,” was located online and stated that “the Zionist regime officially denies the Nakba, the ethical equivalent of Holocaust denial.”

Michaela Engelmeier, a prominent Social Democratic politician, said at the time that Glanz is a “racist and antisemite.”

In 2012, a non-Jewish German poet and anti-Israel activist acknowledged that she fabricated her supposed service in the IDF during the First Lebanon War.

“I said I was in the IDF,” but “it was a lie,” said Irena Wachendorff, 51. She has called strong pro-Israel activists “the neo-Nazi troop among the Jews,” and expressed support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Jennifer Pyka, a German investigative journalist in Munich, obtained evidence that contradicted Wachendorff’s alleged Jewish identity.

In 2010, Edith Lutz, a non-Jewish German who tried to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza aboard the catamaran Irene, said she converted to Judaism. The Irene was dubbed the “Jewish boat,” and garnered widespread media attention because of the presence of a small number of Jews onboard. Prominent German Jewish author and journalist Henryk M. Broder helped expose that Lutz did not convert to Judaism.

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