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An Incident at Wittenbergplatz

Von Walter and Jacqueline Rothschild


Jacqueline Rothschild 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:

  1. Some of the media were already aware before he even came back from hospital!

  2. The BVG-Security, Police and Ambulance were very swifly on the scene and he thanks them for their professional assistance - likewise the casualty department in the hospital.

  3. 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".

Jacqueline Rothschild

Rabbiner Walter 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 off).

One of 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 quickly. 

It wasn't 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).

I 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:
haGalil onLine

haGalil onLine 16-01-2001

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