Racist German mayor resigns

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The Independent Online
A German mayor was forced to resign yesterday, after announcing in a letter to the head of the Jewish community in Germany that he did not want any Jews in his village, and that he did not want people who were going to 'curse the German people'.

Franz-Dieter Schlagkamp, mayor of the village of Senheim - on the Mosel river south of Koblenz - had written: 'I pray to God that I never get a Jew, who will disturb the village peace with his irritating barbs.'

Mr Schlagkamp, a wine-grower who has been mayor for 14 years, used his official headed paper for the letter to Ignatz Bubis, who is chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Mr Bubis said he 'constantly' received such letters, and did not bother to reply. 'You might as well talk to the wall,' he added.

The Catholic village priest described the mayor's comments as 'inexcusable', and Walter Zuber, the Interior Minister of the Rhineland-Palatinate region called for the mayor's resignation.

Following the protests, Mr Schlagkamp withdrew the original comments, but still insisted that he was not planning to resign. He was forced out after a special emergency meeting of the local district council.

Meanwhile, the former head of the German Medical Association, who had been nominated as president of the World Medical Association, has also been forced to resign, because of his Nazi past. Hans Joachim Severing, 76, was due to take up his new post in October.

But many of those who had voted for him were unaware of his history: he had been a member of the SS, and was alleged to have been involved in sending handicapped children for euthanasia, from the clinic near Dachau where he worked.

The German Medical Association initially stood by Dr Severing, saying that 'outworn accusations' were no reason for him to stand down. In 1978, accusations in Der Spiegel magazine had led to Dr Severing's resignation as head of the German Medical Association. Eventually, Dr Severing said that he was standing down in order to 'protect the World Medical Association from damage'.

FIVE people were hurt when a hostel for foreigners in the town of Duisburg, in north-western Germany, was set on fire early yesterday. One refugee broke his leg leaping from a window and four men were taken to hospital after inhaling smoke.

It was not clear whether right- wing extremists were responsible for the attack, but the fire brigade said the cause of the fire had almost certainly been arson. Hostels for asylum-seekers have been the main target for attacks, including fire-bombings, by far-right gangs that claimed 17 lives last year.