German Church Apologizes After neo-Nazi Buried on Old Jewish Grave

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The grave of Max Friedlaender at a cemetery in Stahnsdorf south-west of Berlin.
The grave of Max Friedlaender at a cemetery in Stahnsdorf south-west of Berlin.Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Stefan Noack

The Protestant Church in Germany has apologized for allowing the burial of a Holocaust denier and neo-Nazi on the old grave site of a Jewish-born scientist near Berlin.

"The burial of a Holocaust denier on the grave site of Max Friedlaender is a terrible mistake and a shocking event in view of our history," said Christian Staeblein, the bishop in charge of the local Church district. "We must immediately see if we can make up for this, and how," he said.

The man was buried last Friday at a cemetery in Stahnsdorf south-west of Berlin on the old grave site of musicologist Max Friedlaender, who died in 1934. Friedlaender was a Protestant of Jewish origin.

The local Church authorities explained that it had made the decision not to refuse the request for a grave site, saying that "the guiding principle here is that every person has a right to a final resting place."

The first request for a grave site had been rejected by the cemetery management, but the subsequent selection of Friedlaender's old resting place had been a mistake, the Church authorities said, adding that it was "a failure of our Church."

Berlin's antisemitism commissioner, Samuel Salzborn, filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons on suspicion of disturbing the peace of the dead, according to the Senate's Justice Department.

"Right-wing extremists have deliberately chosen a Jewish grave in order to disturb the peace of the dead," Salzborn said. Now it must be examined whether and, if so, how quickly the Holocaust denier can be reburied, he said.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany also reacted angrily, saying the burial was "intolerable."

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