German Muslim Girls on Holocaust History Trip in Poland Reportedly Face Racism From Locals

One girl told German public radio that she was threatened with a knife, another said someone spat on her on the street in Lublin in the presence of a policeman

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Barracks at the Majdanek death camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland.
Barracks at the Majdanek death camp on the outskirts of Lublin, Poland.Credit: Reuters/Agencja Gazeta/Rafal Michalkowski

A group of German Muslim girls on a Holocaust education trip to Poland with their Berlin school were abused by local residents in the eastern Polish city of Lublin, the BBC reported on its website, citing a report on Germany's public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

According to the BBC, four of the girls were wearing Muslim headscarves and apparently suffered abuse as a result. One of them reported that she was spat on on the street in Lublin in the presence of a police officer who smiled and took no action. Lublin police said they received no complaints from the group. A member of the group also reported being threatened with a knife, the BBC website said.

A classmate said she had been thrown out of a store for speaking Persian. "They came up to me and said: 'Can you leave? You're disturbing the people here.' And I thought: Why? Just because I'm speaking Persian and I'm a foreigner? Yes," she recounted, speaking to the German broadcaster.  

The BBC noted that the Polish Prosecutor's Office reported a two-fold increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate-motivated attacks between 2015 and 2016.

The trip to Poland was organized by Sabeth Schmidthals, a teacher at the girls' Berlin school, the Theodor Heuss Community School. Two years ago, Schmidthals accompanied another group of mostly Muslim students to Israel.

The trip to Poland was organized by the organization that maintains the villa in the Berlin suburb of Wansee where Nazis leadership met in 1942 to discuss the "final solution of the Jews." Reacting to the girls' experience, Hans-Christian Jasch, the director of the House of the Wannsee Conference, as the organization is known, was quoted by the BBC as saying: "I'm especially shocked that this happened to youngsters in our care on this trip, indeed, on a trip dedicated to studying this very topic [racism]. Of course that's particularly sad."

Jasch said he would complain to the Polish embassy in Berlin.

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