We had to make it clear. All of that was
anti-Semitism, and it would grow and be reinforced if the Communist Parties
outside the countries of the East, the forces of the left, and the anti
fascists did not throw their weight into the battle against it. In that way,
and only in that way, could we assist the people in the USSR, in Poland, and in
Czechoslovakia who were taking a stand against anti-Semitism. I warned
anti-fascists everywhere not to compare what was happening in the East with
Vietnam. That would be too easy a way to salve our conscience and resign us to
doing nothing. Our sincerity and our effectiveness would be judged by our fight
against an anti-Semitism that some people believed was nonexistent and that was
already being called "leftist anti-Semitism." |
I spoke several more
times on anti-Semitism in the East. Jewish circles sprang to life, and I sensed
in the big halls of Paris as well as in stuffy little suburban meeting rooms
how much they appreciated a leftist German woman's aligning herself with the
Jews of the USSR. Western communists were denying that many Soviet Jews were
eager to emigrate to Israel. I was even to see in Brussels, in February 1971, a
delegation of Soviet Jews asserting that there was no Jewish problem in the
USSR. It was clear, however, that there was indeed a Jewish problem, and denial
of its existence was not enough to suppress it. When the Kremlin is finally
pressured into allowing a substantial number of Jews to leave for Israel, I
would not like to be in the shoes of those communists who will then have to
admit the truth of what they once denied.
I could not be content with
lecturing or signing petitions. The situation required more than that.
Moreover, the East German party paper, Neues Deutschland, had just taken
a definitely conservative anti-Semitic stand by approving the death sentences
handed down in Leningrad. If the East Germans were subjected to such eyewash, I
would again have to make a public protest against that detestable policy in
such a way that they would have to listen to me.
A number of former
Nazis had re-entered the field of propaganda in the German Democratic Republic.
They did not hold policy-making positions, but they were able to influence
policy. The occupation of Czechoslovakia, the persecution of Jews in the USSR,
and the cordial relations between East Germany and the Arab nations were giving
them a chance to speak out.