Three years after the synagogue attack in Halle, Germany mourns

Officials held events Sunday in commemoration of the gruesome Yom Kippur massacre.

An onlooker examines the bullet marks that were still visible on the door to the synagogue in Halle, Germany, July 20, 2020.  (photo credit: JENS SCHLUETER/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
An onlooker examines the bullet marks that were still visible on the door to the synagogue in Halle, Germany, July 20, 2020.
(photo credit: JENS SCHLUETER/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

This week, Jews in the eastern Germany city of Halle mourned the third anniversary of the attack on a local synagogue by a violent antisemite on October 9, 2019. Officials held events in commemoration of the Yom Kippur attack that did not merely stop at the house of worship, but continued with the murders of two individuals who were nearby at the time. The gunman is now serving a life sentence in prison.

"The veneer of civilization is very thin. Humanity can quickly turn to inhumanity and barbarism."

Saxony-Anhalt Premier Reiner Haseloff

In commemoration, on Sunday, public transport in the city ceased for around a minute at 12:03 p.m., the time the attack started, and church bells rang throughout the city.

The premier of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff of the Christian Democrats (CDU), laid a wreath and in a speech urged the community to take a clear stance against antisemitism and racism.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz address the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz address the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)

"The veneer of civilization is very thin. Humanity can quickly turn to inhumanity and barbarism," he said, calling the bullet-damaged door of the synagogue "a powerful memorial."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also commemorated the attack, writing on Twitter: "This anniversary reminds us never to look away. We remember the victims and reaffirm our determination to fight right-wing extremism in every form."

Rising antisemitism in Germany

The anniversary comes as antisemitism is on the rise in Germany. The German government’s annual report on developments in extremism noted a nearly 29% increase in antisemitic crimes in 2021 over the previous year.

Most reported crimes are related to illegal statements and publications, including on the Internet – Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech are outlawed in Germany – but attacks on people and synagogues were also registered.