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AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER 10 Voorhis Point, South Nyack, NY (845)353-1945

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AMERICAN EDITION June 3, 2012 Dear Friends: I'm back! I spent 12 days in Germany, most of them staffing the 32nd annual exchange program jointly sponsored by AJC and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. We started in Berlin, visited Erfurt, the Buchenwald Memorial, made a stop in Weimar and then headed back to Berlin. All this in 5 1/2 days! The AJC group was wonderful and the program that Ingrid Garwels of the Foundation worked out for us was perfect. While there was much talk about the Euro zone and the possible unraveling of the EU, I did not feel any negative vibes about the German economy which seems to rolling along quite well. There is not much sympathy for bailing out Greece or any other Euro country. However, the rest of the world seems to be saying that only Germany and Chancellor Merkel can save the EU. The Washington Post has an article on the subject. Click here to read it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/merkel-is-target-of-calls-for-drasticmeasures-by-germany-to-save-euro-zone/2012/06/02/gJQAN6hM9U_story.html We had a meeting with Rabbi Walter Homolka, the Executive Director of the Abraham Geiger College at Potsdam University. The Geiger College, part of the Reform Movement has been grinding out rabbis for pulpits in Germany and other European countries. How many of you knew that? Yes! A rabbinical seminary in Germany! Rabbi Homolka is not one to sit on his successes. He is now in the process of arranging to train Conservative rabbis as well. Berlin alone has some eleven synagogues. Jewish life may not be at a pre-World War II level as yet but it certainly seems alive and well. DW featured a pictorial on the subject. Click here to open it. http://www.dw.de/dw/0,,1432,00.html Where did all this strength emanate from? The Russians! No one knows exact numbers but somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 Russian Jews came to 1


Germany after the Berlin Wall fell. The organized Jewish community in Germany runs under Orthodox rules (Halacha) so not all had Jewish mothers or, at least, could not provide the authorities with sufficient documentation proving they were halachically Jewish. Many, therefore, are not "official members". At the moment there are 103,000 that are “official”. However, since the immigration has all but stopped and there are more deaths than births, the number of Jews in Germany is decreasing rather than increasing. AJC in Berlin (Ramer Institute) is doing its diplomatic outreach and advocacy work very well. With some more professional help (They’re short staffed) they could do a lot more. However, one thing they seem expert at is getting the German school systems to incorporate their tolerance building programs, Hands Across the Campus & Hands for Kids into the public school curricula. AJC in German schools! How about that? While in Erfurt we presented the Thuringia Minister President (Governor) Christine Lieberknecht with program packages provided to us by Berlin AJC Director Deidre Berger. By the next day Mr. Wachmeister of the Thuringian Institute for Teacher Training had already received them and was very positive about their implementation in their schools. I wish I could say that Germans totally supported Israel and understood all the problems it is faced with. However, that’s not the case. Israel is still frequently seen as an “aggressor” in this very pacifistic nation. I don’t think the Germans have particular love for the Palestinians but they are seen as oppressed by a much stronger foe and, therefore, are on the receiving end of a lot of sympathy. Interestingly, both the Chancellor and her government are strong supporters of Israel (with exceptions for some policies such as the “Settlements”). The voting public is at best – conflicted. It’s hard to categorize the media. Sometimes they’re supportive and sometimes not. In the recent flap over the Günter Grass poem which accused Israel of planning to wipe out Iran with nuclear missiles, the media, in general, strongly criticized Grass. Mostly, however, media support for Israel is hard to come by. Even if the public is not 100% pro-Israel, the sale of the six German built submarines to Israel which form its second strike capability, went through without much grousing. And, Germany is paying for part of them. Subs are more important than good feeling. Though the German election is more than a year away, there is a lot of talk and thinking about what the fall of 2013 will bring. Most of the “smart money” is on a “Grand Coalition” between the two largest parties, the Chancellor’s CDU and the SPD Social Democrats. It just doesn’t look (at the moment) that either side has enough strength to put together a coalition that would exclude the other. Grand Coalitions produce a certain amount of gridlock (see Washington) but, at this very

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difficult time in Europe perhaps a government of “national unity” is what is needed. A Grand Coalition is just that. Let’s get on with the news… IN THIS EDITION DANIEL GAEDE – The Buchenwald Education Director writes on Comparisons and Hidden Intentions. THE PRESIDENT VISITS ISRAEL – Not Obama but German Pres. Gauck. A little dissonance arises. BAD AROLSEN – A gigantic trove of information about a very bad time. SALAFISM IN GERMANY – An increase in extremism? STUDIES! STUDIES! MORE STUDIES! – Enough with the studies! How about some action? MEIN KAMPF: REDUX – Do you know what’s in it? Two books rather than one? DANIEL GAEDE Daniel Gaede is the Head of the Dept. of Memorial Education at the Buchenwald Memorial – better known to us as the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. I first came to know Daniel probably 20 years ago when he guided an AJC tour group at the Camp. When you meet and talk to him you immediately know that he is a special sort of individual. People who work at these sites where horrible things took place come there (I guess) for various reasons. A way to make a living, enhancing a career as a historian or (again I guess) serving in a capacity that will help others understand the universal message of the results of evil. Daniel is definitely in the latter category. To know him is to know a special person. Until my most recent visit to Buchenwald I had not seen Daniel for a few years. We renewed our friendship. I was not surprised that Daniel was still at Buchenwald. Knowing a little of his history brought me to that conclusion. Some years ago, Daniel and his brother were in Jerusalem (I think his brother was studying there though neither was Jewish). Riding on a bus that was attacked by a terrorist, Daniel’s brother was killed and Daniel lost the sight in one eye. One would think that anger and hate would result – but not from Daniel. It only impelled him to seek and maintain a career trying to explain the implications of evil acts for all humanity. Upon my return home, Daniel sent me a “think piece” he had written in 2009. It is

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deep and requires that you read it more than once. Without comment you will find it below. I would love to have your thoughts on the matter he discusses. Comparisons and (hidden) intentions What is the difference between a grand piano and a violin? The grand piano burns longer. At the end of a guided tour at the memorial site of Buchenwald I said to the participants that the causes of all the crimes organized by the Nazis in the camp were based outside the fence: In the minds of so many who would agree with the policy of discrimination, exclusion, deportation and also killing of all people, who did not fit into their picture of society. “You should tell that to Barack Obama and also mention Guantanamo Bay”, one guest said loudly to me. How should I respond? Say, “You cannot compare this; Guantanamo is another story?” or “Yes, You are right; the US Americans are not better than the Nazis” or should I ask back “What do You want with Your comparison?” The history of the place called “Buchenwald” is a little bit complicated for those who prefer easy answers and therefore black and white stories without grey zones: After the liberation of 21.000 survivors of the concentration camp in April 1945 (56.000 out of 240.000 prisoners were killed between 1937 and 1945) and the takeover of the Soviets in Thuringia in August 1945 the camp site was used for internment of Germans which were isolated there as Nazis or because of denunciations. Till spring 1950 more than 28.000 persons had been kept there; more than 7.100 died from the Soviet camp conditions. 7.100 out of 28.000 are more than 25 percent; 56.000 out of 240.000 less than a quarter: “So look”, someone told me, “the Communists were worse than the Nazis; weren’t they?” How to weigh human suffering? And what for? And are the two mentioned comparisons really fuelled by compassion with the suffering of those who were in that Soviet camp or still are at Guantanamo? We have a long, morally up heated debate on comparisons; which is not helpful at all, because too often it ends in the statement “You shall not compare”. Now, to end comparisons includes the end of science as such, without looking for differences and similarities uniqueness of historical events or of us as human beings cannot be described - which is a matter of logic and not of emotion. The nearly pain causing statement “The grand piano burns longer” is only understandable if You think of a person freezing in a house without a running heating system, but an old oven without coal or wood to use it. From that perspective it makes sense to prefer the grand piano to the violin; it will be totally

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different if someone has to carry the instruments up to the fifth floor or if a musician (violinist, pianist or drummer) is asked for his preference. Comparisons are essential tools in science as in daily life; we cannot live without them. But we need to be clear about the intention of those who compare “apples with peaches”. If - in the fields of history and social sciences - people compare with the aim better to talk about the crimes of the others instead about own responsibilities, its time to interrupt and clarify what we stand for as educators in memorial sites: Precisely dealing with proved facts to support a deeper understanding of the past with the aim to strengthen those who suffered or want to engage themselves for others in need - on the long run for a sustainable future on this planet, since we don’t have a second one in spare. Daniel Gaede, 15.10.09 THE PRESIDENT VISITS ISRAEL Two weeks ago German President Joachim Gauck made a visit to Israel. It was important as Pres. Gauck, who is seen as a strong voice in Germany, is the sort of person many Germans look up to on those questions dealing with moral issues. The visit should have been totally upbeat and positive; one devoid of any criticisms – on either side. However, it didn’t quite work out that way. According to JTA, “German President Joachim Gauck raised the issue of Israeli settlements during his official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 30, Gauck asked the Israeli leader to show readiness to make a compromise on settlement construction. In a statement issued May 30, the American Jewish Committee's Berlin office applauded Gauck's "strong reaffirmation of German-Jewish relations" but also urged him to affirm his commitment to protecting Israel's security, in light of "an increasingly negative climate toward Israel" in Germany. Recent polls have shown a decline in popular support for Israel among German citizens, noted Berlin AJC director Deidre Berger. During his stay, Gauck met with his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, whom he thanked for the “immeasurable generosity of the gift of trust” that Israel has granted to the Federal Republic of Germany. In discussions with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann, Gauck again criticized Israel's settlement policy. The trip included a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and to a German-funded girls' school in the West Bank village of Burin.

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Reinhold Robbe, president of the German-Israel Society, who accompanied Gauck on the visit, said in a statement that the president had made his friendship with and support for Israel clear during the visit. "It is not mere lip service, but an important driving force for the president." The AJC statement got somewhat more into detail when it noted, ““The timing of President Gauck’s visit is of particular importance, given the threat to Israel of Iran’s secret nuclear program“ said [Deidre] Berger. “We urge President Gauck to clarify that his statements do not indicate a shift by the German government in its position on Israel. We are concerned the comments, without reaffirming the position of the German Chancellor, will have a further negative impact in Germany on support for Israel.” Upon receiving AJC’s “Light Unto the Nations” award in 2011, Chancellor Merkel pledged that the award would be a daily reminder for Germany to do everything possible to help “the people in Israel to live in a secure Jewish state, with secure borders and freedom.” Gauck said during his visit that he hopes Israel and an independent Palestinian state will coexist peacefully in recognized borders. However, in discussions with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann, Gauck criticized Israeli settlement policy. Following his trip to Israel, he plans to visit Palestinian officials in Ramallah. “It is important to avoid conflation of the Mideast conflict with German-Israeli and German-Jewish relations,” said Berger. “There has never been a more critical moment for German support for Israel, given the enormous political unrest in the Mideast, and we hope this important first visit by President Gauck will strengthen the German-Israeli partnership.” A further discussion of the AJC statement was carried by the Jerusalem Post. To read it click here. http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx? id=272283 In summary, I think it can be said that Pres. Gauck’s visit to Israel was important and was generally seen in a positive light. – but not by all including, perhaps, some in the Chancellor’s Office, AJC and others did not feel that he showed a necessary deep understanding of Israel’s current plight. We certainly will be following his career and relationship with the Jewish State as time goes on. BAD AROLSEN Bad Arolsen is more good than bad. First of all, it is, as John LeCarre’s novel title spelled out – “A Small Town in Germany”. Though I’ve not been there it seems to be

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the kind of picturesque community that you see in travel folders. However, it is something more. It is an enormous depot of information about Holocaust victims. As Wikipedia points out, “Since 1946, Bad Arolsen has been headquarters to the International Tracing Service, an organization dedicated to finding missing civilians, typically lost to family and friends as a result of war or political unrest during World War II. The institution is led and administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. A venue for millions of documents related to the Nazi-attempted extermination of the Jewish people and others, the ITS holds vast archives of Nazi-related documents. In April 2006, German justice minister Brigitte Zypries announced that Germany would cooperate with the United States and allow survivors and historians of the Holocaust access to 47 million pages of documents, although an eleven-nation accord had to decide unanimously that this was to be done. More than 12 Million of the documents have now being digitally scanned and shared with research institutions around the world. The archive fully opened when France, Italy and Greece ratified changes to the access protocol. Information kept hidden from the public since its inception was finally open to the public in November 2007. Haaretz recently reported, “A U.S. university professor has been appointed director of the International Tracing Service's Holocaust-era archive in the German town of Bad Arolsen. The ITS said Wednesday its 11-member international commission had voted to name Rebecca Boehling, a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, to head the archive starting Jan. 1, 2013. Boehling is an expert on the Holocaust, World War II and the early postwar period in Germany. The ITS was established by Western Allies in the final days of World War II and run by the Red Cross to help uncover the fates of Holocaust victims and others who suffered under the Nazi regime. In 2007, scholars and researchers were allowed access to the documents, beginning the archive's transformation from a tracing service to a research institution. While I do not know Prof. Boehling she seems to be the perfect person to guide the ITS and the possibilities it has for Holocaust research. You can read her bio by clicking here. http://www.aicgs.org/expert/professor-rebecca-boehling/ If that’s not enough, you can see her in person on You Tube as she interviews a subject dealing with a book she co-authored, Life and Loss in the Shadow of

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the Holocaust. Click here to see it. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=nIPDIGXL0N4 SALAFISM IN GERMANY In the last edition I wrote about the handing out of Korans throughout Germany. I also noted that these free editions mainly came with a political message from extreme Islamists, the Salafists. An article on the DW website dealt with the subject of the rise of this sort of extremism in Germany. It noted, “In the last two years, Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution [Ed. Note: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV)] has noted "increasing travels in the direction of Afghanistan and Pakistan" from people who come from "milieus influenced by the Salafist ideology." Furthermore, "almost without exception, all of those connected with Germany that have joined up with or supported violent jihadist movements, had prior contact with Salafists." Salafism is not a unified movement. Instead, it is an umbrella concept for a number of branches of Sunni Islam. "They propagate what they consider an original form of Islam, tracing it back to a 'Golden Age' around 1,400 years ago, from which Muslims have gradually moved away in the course of the centuries," said Raul Ceylan, an Islamic Studies professor in Osnabrück. Their goal is to recreate this original form of Islam, Ceylan explained, and they reject all forms of subsequent religious or social "developments." Just a few radical groups within the movement advocate violent conflict, though. What is it that makes such extremist groups attractive to recruits? "For one thing, it's the very close and sect-like communal life," said Ceylan. "The more you enter this circle and integrate into its structures, the less contact with the outside world you'll have." "It's also the attractiveness of simplicity," Ceylan added, referring to the black and white picture that prevails among extremist groups of all non-Muslims being condemned to hell, while all believers will find paradise. Finally, Ceylan said, Salafist preachers give their followers a sense of being "the chosen ones." In the last few months, the Salafists have moved beyond basic propaganda. Last year, an association calling itself "Invitation to Paradise” tried to settle in the western

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German city of Mönchengladbach. Months of protests by residents ultimately prevented that, and the group was forced to disband. On the other hand, an Internet platform launched in 2005 called "The True Religion” has expanded its activities. In recent weeks, its members made headlines by distributing German translations of the Koran in various cities. There is often a single charismatic preacher behind such actions. "There is no umbrella organization," explained Raul Ceylan. "They are simply local associations that are networked with one another." Up until a few years ago the Islamic population of Germany was made up of Turks who were very far from being Salafist and radical. Newer elements from elsewhere have become more vocal and at times violent in their demonstrations. I do not think it is as yet a major problem but it certainly is one that gets considerable publicity. The BfV seems to be on top of the situation. You can read more about it in a DW interview with a BfV expert on the matter by clicking here. http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15937261_page_0,00.html STUDIES! STUDIES! MORE STUDIES! JTA recently reported, “The European Union has launched a major study of antiSemitism on the continent. The study, which aims to assess the problem and recommend solutions, is likely the first survey to ask Jews in nine EU member states about their perceptions and experiences of anti-Semitism, hate speech, hate-motivated violence and discrimination. The United Kingdom-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Ipsos MORI has been commissioned by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights to conduct the study, which comes at a time of increasing concern among Jews in some European countries, particularly as the intensifying economic crisis exacerbates age-old antiSemitic sentiments. "Anti-Semitism remains an issue of concern today, not only to Jews but to everyone in the EU," Iloannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of the EU agency's department of equality and citizens rights, said in a statement May 25 announcing the commencement of fieldwork. "The ways in which it manifests itself vary according to time and place, and it affects Jews living in the EU in different ways." According to the statement, the online survey will "investigate first-hand examples of anti-Semitic harassment and violence, as well as the extent to which Jews feel safe and secure in Europe today, how they characterize anti-Semitism, and whether or

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not they perceive it to be a growing threat. It will further explore how and whether incidents are being reported, and levels of awareness among European Jews about their legal rights." For now, data will be collected in nine European Union member states -- Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Survey results are scheduled to be published in 2013. Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, said in the statement that “It is clear to all observers of contemporary Jewish life that anti-Semitism continues to be a major preoccupation and worry in Jewish communal circles. If it is ever to be effectively tackled, it is essential to have shared, reliable data." Believe me! I am not opposed to studies of anti-Semitism. They focus thinking on a “forever” kind of problem and, hopefully, get people and particularly decision and policy makers to think about its implications for their own nations and the lives of their citizens. I guess that since such an important institution as the EU is undertaking the study it will have genuine credence. However, we pretty much know what the results will be. There will be substantial evidence of anti-Semitism. Jews will think there is more of it than their non-Jewish neighbors. Perhaps, anti-Semitism from Arab and Islamic sources will come through more clearly. There will be more of it the further east you go. The study will be published with the appropriate press releases and appropriate publicity. Leaders will make all the appropriate noises of horror at the findings. A few political leaders (Hungary?) will make what they consider the appropriate rejections of the findings – and we will pretty much be back where we started. You are probably sick of reading my paralleling anti-Semitism and tuberculosis. At the risk of boring you, in my opinion anti-Semitism can be arrested but never cured. It can remain dormant but it never is fully eradicated. Given the proper circumstances it raises its ugly head when economic, political, religious or social situations arise and a political weapon is needed. I would be happier if the EU outlined a political implementation program to go along with the study. At the risk of appearing to be an enemy of “science” let’s forget doing the study and work on an anti-anti-Semitism program that defends Jews and other minorities. MEIN KAMPF: REDUX I have written previously (at least twice) about the proposed 2015 printing in Germany of Mein Kampf for the first time since 1945. I thought the issue was settled especially since Hitler’s tome has been printed almost everywhere else and is easily

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downloaded from the Internet. However, for the Germans to print it and then have it available in schools is more major than I thought. Much has been written about it on all sides of the issue and it has been mentioned more than once that very few people (including me) have ever read it and do not know what’s in it. In addition, many (me too) did not know it was actually two books written at different times with the second only coming to light after World War II. Alex Joffe writing in Jewish Ideas Daily sorts a lot of it out and opines what the Germans should do about it. He writes, “Important literature can't be kept under wraps forever. A case in point is Mein Kampf. The German state of Bavaria, which holds the German copyright, has blocked the book's publication within Hitler's homeland; as recently as 2010, the state went to court to prevent an unauthorized academic edition. But in 2015, 70 years after the author's death, Bavaria's copyright will expire. So, the state has announced plans to fund two new editions, the first in German since 1945, including critical commentary. The aim, say Bavarian authorities, is to "demystify" Mein Kampf and make other editions "commercially unattractive." The recent announcement was welcomed by, among others, representatives of Germany's Jews, who would prefer to see Mein Kampf remain under careful state control. Like most classics, Mein Kampf is often cited but rarely read, especially by those who pass judgment on it; but the book deserves careful study. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, after Hitler emerged from the Bavarian prison in which he wrote it after his failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. The work presents his life story, education, philosophy, and plans. Its structure is immensely clever, beginning with a very modest snapshot of Hitler's family and early life. Through this device Hitler poses as the German Everyman. The book then maps Hitler's struggles—as a child, artist, soldier, and revolutionary —onto the struggles of the German nation, whose corrupt leaders have failed its pure, if naïve, people. Hitler's life becomes Germany's life. "The Goddess of Fate," Hitler addresses Germany, "clutched me in her hands and often threatened to smash me; but the will grew stronger as the obstacles increased, and finally the will triumphed." The purely literary merits of such declarations are few, but the emotional appeal to the German masses of 1925—or, Bavaria fears, 2012—is apparent. What is needed, the book explains, is to uplift and "nationalize the people." But as a struggling artist in Vienna, Hitler came to see the obstacles: His "eyes were opened to two perils, the names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of their terrible significance for the existence of the German people": Marxism and Judaism. Even more fundamentally, social democracy, finance, capitalism and Communism, the press—all these corruptions stemmed from "the life

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which the Jew lives as a parasite thriving on the substance of other nations and States." The book, initially taut, then becomes baggier, suitable mostly for dipping in and out rather than reading through; but it remains saturated with a pure antiSemitism that even the most episodic reader could not miss. One of the book's virtues, so to speak, is honesty. "The art of leadership," it explains, "as displayed by really great popular leaders in all ages, consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention into sections." Hitler makes clear from the beginning who that single adversary will be. No one who had persevered through the first 100 pages should have had any doubt about his beliefs or intentions; and no one reading it after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933 should have doubted that the book's racialized, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic program would become state policy. In his so-called ‘‘Second Book,'' written in 1928 but not published in his lifetime, Hitler laid out concisely his vision for a national socialist foreign policy, based not on industry and trade but on the expansionist pursuit of Lebensraum. The Second Book is a policy statement, not a personal one, and perhaps for that reason was unavailable until 1961 (thanks to the discovery of a typescript among materials seized by the U.S. government). Yet whereas credulous readers of Mein Kampf insisted until 1939 that that book was not to be taken seriously, the Second Book leaves no doubt of Hitler's aims. Joffe’s article is too long to completely reprint here. In the section where he advises on how the book should be treated, especially in schools, is must reading. You can bring it up (and you should) by clicking here. http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/content/module/2012/5/22/main-feature/1/sending-meinkampf-back-to-school/r&jtahome ****************************************************************************************** See you again at the end of the month. DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted by clicking here Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com Click here to connect

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DuBow Digest American Edition 6/3/2012  

An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

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