C. Bernd Sucher presents his book “Unsecure Homeland” – Munich

Honestly. How many Jews do you know? If you have read this book or heard its author at a reading, you will know at least one more person and will hopefully be highly motivated to expand your circle of friends. Why? Encounter and education are the only effective way to combat anti-Semitism, believes C. Bernd Sucher, whose new book “Unsichere Heimat” has just been published by Piper Verlag. It’s often not about having a false image of Jews, says the author and former theater critic South German newspaper in conversation with the dramaturge Ilja Mirsky after his reading at the Residenztheater.

The hall is loosely filled, there is a lot of silver hair to be seen, only a few young faces. The President of the Jewish Community of Munich, Charlotte Knobloch, is led to her seat in the front row by two security guards; there are at least two other uniformed officers in the room who are visibly ensuring security. “Many people have no image of Jews at all,” says Sucher. The result of this is that each individual deals with this “phenomenon” however they want. The author, who was born in Bitterfeld in 1949, does not see changing this as a task for Jewish people: “Non-Jews should try to get to know as many Jews as possible.”

It’s not that easy, especially in terms of numbers: of the 83 million people who live in Germany, only a small fraction are Jewish. In addition, Jewish life has not been present in public since the end of the Second World War. Sucher exposes this gap in his impressive inventory of the current situation of the 95,000 Jews in this country, in which he examines social coexistence from the liberation in 1945 to the present day. The focus of the book is the question of whether Jews have a future in Germany. The title reveals the skeptical attitude – although the author was initially optimistic, the conversations he had with various interviewees made it clear to him that he saw the situation too positively: “Germany is an unsafe homeland,” says the son of a Protestant father and a Jewish mother.

Unfortunately, this is especially true at the moment: “Unsafe Homeland” is the book of the moment, and the timing of its publication couldn’t be more appropriate – tragically. Anti-Semitism has become acceptable again, as evidenced not least by the Aiwanger affair surrounding the anti-Semitic leaflet, the recent Jewish Star markings on house walls and a large number of pro-Palestine demonstrations in the wake of the Middle East conflict. If he had written the book after the experience of October 7th, he would have called it “Let’s Get Away,” says Sucher, who answers his counterpart’s initially hesitant but well-considered questions in a quick-witted and entertaining manner. His sarcasm is mixed with the seriousness of the situation: It’s so easy to say, but where to? “Israel is no longer a safe country,” said the author. He’s not afraid as long as he’s sitting on a podium like this. However, it speaks for itself if police protection had to be requested at every reading he gave.

The elephant in the room – the current events in Gaza and Israel – is only indirectly addressed on this stage. But perhaps this is not necessary; there seems to be a consensus about how the situation for Jews all over the world should be assessed. What is clear to Sucher is that anti-Semitism cannot be eliminated. A sad realization that urges you to raise your voice.

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