History of Christian-Jewish Societies in Germany
After the end of the Second World War, the initiative to found societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation in Germany was suggested by the already existing National Councils for Christian-Jewish Cooperation in the US, the UK, France, and Switzerland. During the initiation of the first societies, members of the American occupation force were involved as a part of their program to reeducate the Germans for democracy.
The first societies originated in Munich, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart, and Berlin in 1948/49. These groups then founded the German Coordinating Council with headquarters in Bad Nauheim on November 10, 1949. Further societies were then founded in many places in Germany, also in the new German states.
Over a period of a more than a 50-year history, the focus of activities has shifted several times. For example, sometimes educational questions have stood in the forefront of the work, followed by theological and political questions. The societies were successful in advocating a revision of Christian religious instruction, overcoming anti-Judaism in theology and the Church, recognizing the state of Israel, suspending the statute of limitations on Nazi crimes, and, again and again, commensurate “reparations” for Holocaust survivors.
The societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation originated in Germany after the liberation from the oppressive Nazi regime. They are aware of the historical guilt and confront the persisting responsibility in the face of the annihilation of Jewish life in Germany and Europe inflicted by Germans and in the name of Germany.
Founded on the Biblical tradition, they adhere to the conviction that political and religious life needs orientation, one that is serious about achieving rights for all people to life and freedom without distinction as to religion, origin, or sex.
Today there are more than 80 local and regional societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation in Germany in which men and women are committed to affirming the goals and tasks named in the preamble, especially Christians of different denominations and Jews of different traditions.
The German Coordinating Council represents these societies on a national and international level as a national association. It is the largest single member in the International Council of Christians and Jews, in which 32 national associations for Christian-Jewish Cooperation are represented.
In Germany, about 20,000 members, friends, and sponsors belong to the societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation. Like the German Coordinating Council, the individual societies are financed basically by public funds, member fees, and donations.