Germans and Jews unite to help Kosovars

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The Independent Online
ON THE killing fields of the Balkans, two peoples bound in fate by genocide meet again. For the first time since the Holocaust, a Jewish organisation from America is joining forces with a Christian charity from Germany to help victims of ethnic violence in Kosovo.

The American Jewish Committee yesterday gave $120,000 (pounds 70,000) in medical equipment to the Johanniter - the German equivalent of St John Ambulance - which is affiliated to the Lutheran church. Leaders of the donor group and a member of the German government will watch an aid flight being loaded for the Balkans next week.

The equipment is for the Johanniter's makeshift hospital at Neprosteno, northern Macedonia, which cares for 3,500 Kosovo Albanians too ill to return home. Eugene DuBow, head of the Jewish organisation's Berlin office set up only 18 months ago, first saw the suffering of Kosovars at the hospital. "It was all very moving," he said. "I should not have been surprised. The German people, while bearing scars of the Holocaust totally different from those of the Jews, bear scars none the less."

The wounds heal slowly. The world's Jewish communities remain ambivalent to Germany, many Israelis questioning even the right of Jews to live there. But, ironically, rapprochement gathers pace between Germans and Jews because Germany has gone to war for the first time since 1945, accelerating national rehabilitation.

The American Jewish Committee, stirred by the Kosovo suffering, took out a newspaper advertisement thanking every Nato member for coming to the aid of the victims, predominantly Muslims. At home the German army got no thanks, its campaign seen as only an embarrassing tour of duty.

Only a Jew like Mr DuBow can say: "Germans should be proud of their Bundeswehr."