wrote the day after the incident: "Yesterday
evening the 10th of January 2001 at about 22.00 hours, Rabbi Walter
Rothschild was attacked by 2 or 3 middle-eastern looking young men
(about 16-20 years old), at Wittenberg Platz U-Bahn Station.
He challenged the young men, who "were making the life of a train
driver miserable" and the young men grabbed his hat and than punched
the Rabbi in the face. His glasses were broken and the rabbi needed
2-3 stitches around his eye in hospital (the Benjamin Franklin
Klinik in Steglitz).
Rabbi Rothschild wants to stress the following:
Some of the media
were already aware before he even came back from hospital!
Police and Ambulance were very swifly on the scene and he thanks
them for their professional assistance - likewise the casualty
department in the hospital.
He is NOT hysterical,
he is not packing his bags, he is not taking this personally;
these three young men were NOT skinheads from Brandenburg, were
NOT Neo-nazis etc. etc.. They were 3 teenagers possibly slightly
drunk, certainly out of bed too late at night, excitable, "too
much testosterone and not enough common sense!".
It is true that they
expressed dislike of Jews, it was an anti-semitic attack, but NOT a
premeditated one. He received one punch in the face, which caused a
nose-bleed and cuts around the left eye. But he is alive and
kicking. With his English upper lip as stiff as ever.
This note is simply intended to ensure that the press-coverage,
which will undoubtedly ensue, does not get the wrong end of the
stick and create more panic. The police are taking it seriously, but
there is really very little more to say".
Rothschild wrote: "For your
information - I was with two women from my course, which I had just
finished teaching, we'd just arrived on the U15 from Uhlandstrasse
and these lads were acting in a threatening way to the train driver,
I hoped to calm the situation by saying "er macht nur sein Job" (I
think they'd been messing about with a bottle and he had told them
the lads said "Bist du ein Jude ?" - I said "Ja, natürlich", he
responded "Ich hasse alle Juden", I said "Oh, wie viele kennst du?",
his friend grabbed my hat, one of the two people I was with shouted
"Hey, es geht jetzt zu weit", I tried to grab my hat back, so did
she, suddenly one of his friends let loose a fist, it went POW! in
my left eye, they all ran, we ran after them, I began bleeding from
eye and nose, a BVG man got me to sit on a bench - it was all over
within 20 seconds.
I was taken off to hospital for a check-up and stitches, gave a
police statement, got a taxi home by just before midnight, and two
minutes later Moishe Waks (Jüd. Gem. Berlin) called, having already
heard from both the Gemeinde Sicherheitsabteilung and InfoRadio! So
before we went to bed and while I made a cup of tea (I had swallowed
a bit of blood and was coughing) we typed up the above message.
So - for the information of your Zentralrat statisticians or
security people or whoever - on the one hand it was clear that I was
identified as a Jew, so it was "antisemitic"; on the other hand, I
strongly suspect that at least two of the three were as shocked and
scared as I was that the situation developed the way it did, so
a vicious continued attack, like when people knock someone to the
ground and kick him, it was just a "hit and run" affair; and
they would just as easily have taunted a BVG driver or sweeper - it
wasn't "racial" in the way that attacks on Chinese or Afghan or
Ghanaian Asylbewerbers are.
So I don't particlarly want hundreds of public statements, 40,000
people on a march at Wittenberg Platz, candlelit vigils, statements
by Herr Schily or Herr Spiegel, and the rest. It was a nasty little
incident, I have a sore face and am missing a pair of new (and
complicated, and expensive) varioflex spectacles, have some stitches
in my face for a week, rather a headache, and must spend most of
today visiting the police, the Optiker, the Augenarzt, my insurance
man, etc. - all very bothersome.
Luckily the lens was plastic, and although it was knocked out of the
frame and into my face and slightly scratched the "Hornhaut", there
is no worse long-term damage to the eye itself than that (so far as
anyone can tell).
suppose worse things happen in a dozen Kneipes every night.
I know I have to give another, fuller statement later this morning;
the police apparently grabbed one 15-year old last night; I'll have
to give calm statements to whichever journalists telephone when I am
home (thank goodness I have no handy!) - but for the rest, the kids
went to school this morning and I want life to continue as normal.
(That includes travelling down south tonight for the weekend.)"
Rabbiner Walter Rothschild
Earlier Reports on the Incident: