Et is a strong sign of unity and solidarity that the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament and the black-green state government are sending. After the chairmen of the five parliamentary groups, Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) also took the floor in a current hour about the attack on the former rabbinical house in Essen. “We in North Rhine-Westphalia take the shots very personally,” he says. The attack “has hit our common home.”
On the night of last Friday at least four shots were fired from a live weapon at the former rabbi’s building in downtown Essen; the projectiles severely damaged the front door. The Old Synagogue is owned by the city and now houses a cultural institute where knowledge about Jewish religion, culture and history is imparted; The Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute of the University of Duisburg-Essen is located in the former rabbi’s house.
Even though Essen’s Jewish community life has been taking place further south in the new synagogue since 1959, the old synagogue is a symbol of Jewish life in Germany far beyond the city limits. The police and prosecutors are convinced that the perpetrator or perpetrators chose the Old Synagogue for the attack.
Trail leads to another city
The circumstances speak for an “extremist and anti-Semitic act,” says a spokesman for the Central Office for Terrorism Prosecution at the Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor’s Office. He does not want to give any further details so as not to jeopardize the success of the investigation.
However, the FAZ learned from security circles that the criminalists were pursuing several very specific leads. A sniffer dog was able to follow the trail of a suspect for kilometers to another city in the Ruhr area. Video recordings from surveillance cameras play an important role.
The images are supposed to show the perpetrator, albeit in poor quality. Another piece of the puzzle is the damage found in the metal roof of the new synagogue on Saturday, which is also believed to be bullet holes. According to the investigators, due to the signs of corrosion, they must have been created more than a month ago.
On Wednesday, the parliamentary groups will place the shots on the door of the former rabbi’s house in a larger context. Verena Schäffer, leader of the Greens faction, recalls that three years ago a wooden door saved the lives of more than 50 people in Halle when a right-wing extremist tried to storm the synagogue there. Just a few days ago, the small roll of parchment attached to the door frame of Jewish houses was torn off at a synagogue in Berlin.
“The attacks on these doors of Jewish institutions are symbolic of anti-Semitic violence in Germany.” CDU faction leader Thorsten Schick says the shots in Essen didn’t just hit a building. “You have struck at the very heart of interreligious dialogue. That makes the act all the more serious.”