A neo-Nazi holds a black flag during an ultra right-wing rally in Remagen
A neo-Nazi holds a black flag during an ultra right-wing rally in Remagen Reuters

More than 65 years after the end of World War II, anti-Semitism remains a powerful force in Germany, according to a report prepared by an independent commission appointed by the Bundestag (parliament).

About one in five of Germans hold latent anti-Jewish feelings, the report estimates, which would make it comparable to most other European nations. Such anti-Semites agreed with statements like Jews have too much power in business.

Anti-Semitism in our society is based on widespread prejudices, deeply rooted clichés and on sheer ignorance about Jews and Judaism, said German historian and report co-author Peter Longerich during a press conference in Berlin.

The study indicates that anti-Jewish feelings are pervasive throughout mainstream German society -- not limited to the lunatic Neo-Nazi fringe -- citing a wider acceptance in mainstream society of day-to-day anti-Jewish tirades and actions.

The ease of communications through the Internet is also noted by the report as a major influence on the spread of anti-Semitism.

With regard to modern forms of communication -- we point to the Internet in particular -- it is virtually impossible to prevent the spread of such thinking, Longerich said.

The report also notes, however, that the overwhelming majority of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany are committed by right-wing extremists, who are believed to number only 26,000 people -- a tiny portion of the country’s 80 million population.

Also, the emergence of Muslim immigrants in Germany, a small portion of whom are Islamic extremists, are likely also buoying the overall anti-Semitic climate in the country.

Wolfgang Thierse, the deputy speaker of the German parliament, warned that anti-Semitism is a constant phenomenon.

Stephen Evans, a BBC correspondent in Berlin, commented that Germany has a uniquely powerful connection to anti-Semitism, given its history: “Some Jewish groups, though, praise the government for what they see as its unambiguous, loud condemnation [of anti-Semitism]. This month a new Jewish newspaper started publication in Germany with the words: Today, the world's fastest growing Jewish community is in Germany. We have Jewish artists living here, writers and business people.

However, Evans added: “Anti-Semitism remains. One Jewish group in Germany greeted the latest report by saying: 'We need new ways of dealing with the past. It is necessary for politicians and the education system in Germany to deal with the National Socialist past.'

The report comes just after the 70th anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee conference in Berlin, where top Nazi officials plotted the extermination of Europe’s Jews.

The Jewish population in Germany is still quite small, but rising.

In 1989, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were fewer than 30,000 Jews in Germany. Now there are an estimated 200,000, mostly due to the migration of Jews from Russia.

As such Jews represent a negligible minority in the country. In contrast, there are almost 4 million Turks in Germany.