Germany - One in five Germans believe the Jews are committing a holocaust

Supporters of Germany’s main far-right party are more likely to subscribe to crudely antisemitic stereotypes about Jews in comparison to the rest of the country’s population, a new survey commissioned by the Central Council of Jews in Germany has revealed.

The survey, conducted by the polling firm Forsa on behalf of the Central Council, demonstrated strong agreement with antisemitic statements among supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) as well as among German voters more broadly.

For example, asked whether Jews exploit German guilt over the Holocaust to “derive an advantage,” 30 percent of all respondents agreed. Amongst AfD supporters specifically, that number nearly doubled, with 59 percent expressing agreement.

More than one in five respondents concurred with the assertion that Israeli policies towards the Palestinians faithfully mirrored Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews. Twenty-one percent of the overall sample agreed with that statement, rising to 32 percent among supporters of the AfD. And when asked whether Jews exercised disproportionate influence over German politics, 24 percent of the total sample agreed; among AfD voters, the proportion in agreement rose to 50 percent.

Significantly, the majority of respondents did not recognize themselves as antisemitic. Presented with the statement “I have nothing against Jews,” 92 percent agreed. However, there was considerably less of a consensus around the issue of Zionism, with 57 percent of respondents agreeing with the statement, “I have nothing against Zionists.”

Formed in 2013 as a conservative offshoot of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the AfD has moved increasingly rightwards over the years, pushing a strongly anti-immigrant message that also urges ordinary Germans to reject all notions of guilt or responsibility concerning the crimes of the Nazi era.

In last September’s elections, the AfD’s overall share of the vote declined to 10.3 percent — down from 12.6 percent in 2017, when the party won nearly 100 seats in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. At the same time, the AfD secured its position as a major force in the formerly communist eastern half of Germany, coming first in the polls in the states of Saxony and Thuringia.

The latest survey of German attitudes towards Jews forms part of a broader series of polls being conducted by “Schalom Aleikum” — a Jewish-Muslim dialogue initiative supported by the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Other recent polls have highlighted how Jews in Germany regard the growing antisemitism around them, with 91 percent agreeing that bigotry towards Jews remains “very widespread” among Muslims.