August 10th, 2005

National Agreement

A ‘historical event’: Agreement signed between the German government and the Central Council of Jews in Germany

On January 2003, Holocaust Commemoration Day, Gerhard Schröder as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and Paul Spiegel as President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany signed the first National Agreement between the German government and the Jewish umbrella organization in the history of post-war Germany.

Nearly 60 years after the holocaust, the relationship between the German government and the Central Council of Jews in Germany was thereby placed on a firm legal basis which is intended to guarantee “continuity and partnership”. Dr Spiegel described the Agreement as a “major token of faith” in society and democracy on the part of the Jews living in Germany.

After 1945, continued Paul Spiegel, nobody could have imagined that Jews would ever feel at home again in this country. When the Central Council was founded in 1950, there were only 25,000 Jews still living in Germany. There were now 83 Jewish communities with over 100,000 members, a growing number of them immigrants from Eastern Europe.

In keeping with this development, work focused on cultural and social activities and the implementation of integration policies. Immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union needed to be re-acquainted with Judaism, observed Dr Spiegel. At present there were only 30 rabbis officiating in the Jewish communities, too few to cope with the task. Hence training rabbis is essential to the development and future of Jewish life in Germany.

Full text of the Agreement (in German)