Thank you for coming here so early this morning to show solidarity with the victims and to speak out against right-wing extremism. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. Thank you for listening to me.

On October 9, 2019, Jews all over the world celebrated Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday. I spent that day in the Halle synagogue and survived a terrorist attack. My name is Christina Feist.

Today I stand before you in a trial against the man who attacked this synagogue. In a few minutes I will meet with him in the courtroom, with the awareness that I am still alive and that he will be tried for his actions.

I stand before you to share my experience, but also to share my anger and frustration. This is my responsibility as a co-plaintiff in this case, but above all it is my responsibility as a person.

Antisemitism and right-wing ideology are not new phenomena in Germany. Antisemitic attacks are a sad part of our daily life, and the symptoms of antisemitism are deeply rooted in German society, in which, despite the Shoah, despite the targeted killing of 6 million Jews, despite the systematic murder of population groups, despite the Second World War – despite all of that, nothing has changed in the past 100 years! It’s time for us to admit this shameful truth!

When I look at Germany, I see a country that does not dare to face the present reality. I see a country that has not learned from its past. I see a country that lacks the courage and determination to purposefully fight antisemitism and far-right ideologies. I see politicians who can only indignantly declare “Never again!” (“Nie Wieder!”)

“Never again” are words that have lost all meaning and significance for me. Empty words followed by inaction. Historically, Judaism, Jewish identity and culture are part of Germany; this connection existed long before the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the Jewish community is still considered a kind of foreign body, a minority that must be tolerated.

You must finally understand that every antisemitic attack, every hate crime and violence motivated by extreme right views is an attack on all of us. On all of us who are here today. This is a direct attack on democracy, on the open society in which you and I live here, in Germany. Take it personally! As one of more than 40 plaintiffs, I stand up today to defend our right to exist and to defend justice. But I also stand here to fight for an open, democratic society. And I ask you: do not leave us alone!

As I said today, antisemitism is deeply rooted in German society. Not a week goes by without my friends and acquaintances being subjected to antisemitic insults and attacks in Germany. However, all of these attacks continue to be seen as exceptions, as isolated incidents of lone wolves.

This is an incredible insult to the Jewish community!

The attack on the synagogue in Halle on October 9 last year was a clear sign that we can no longer talk about isolated cases, that antisemitism is not just a problem for the Jewish community, that right-wing extremist ideology affects not only minorities. Insults, abuse, vandalism, physical violence are all signs of deep-seated antisemitism. It is no longer enough to shout “never again” and do nothing!

That is why, I ask you to show civic courage!

Act when you see injustice, hatred and discrimination!
Stand up for your fellow humans! Finally, take us seriously!
All of us, born or living in Germany, have a duty to protect ourselves and each other from antisemitism, anti-Muslim racism, hatred, discrimination and exclusion.
It’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable.
It’s “inconvenient” and tiring.
But who, if not us, can take on this task?
When, if not now, should we accept this responsibility?
Let us no longer be fobbed off with small achievements and empty words!
Let us be brave! Let us be adamant!
Let us fight for our democracy together! For our open society!