Gerdien Jonker with article on inter-religious relations in post-war Berlin

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The latest issue of Medaon, a journal that focuses on Jewish life-worlds, features an article by Dr. Gerdien Jonker that deals with the Working Group Churches and Religious Communities in Greater Berlin (AKR).

Jonker centers her discussion on the interreligious relations between Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists by examining personal and structural interdependencies from which the workgroup had been constituted in 1947. Former president of the Berlin Jewish Community Siegmund Weltlinger had been highly interested in the foundation of a sup-group ‘Non-Christian Religions’ to unite these religions as well as to clearly distinguish them from the Christian churches. Those roles under the Nazi regime had remained uncertain due to the widespread collaboration of certain actors with the Nazis. Weltlinger and others had been afraid that some would try to rehabilitate by joining the workgroup.

Gerdien Jonker contextualizes the founding of the initiative by referring to the earlier relations between those religious communities during the inter-war period and by tracing back the redetermination of the religious field through cooperation in 1945. She writes that the foundation of AKR and especially the following years had been standing under the dark shadow of the Nazi regime and the question of which role various actors had played during this time. However, a “working through the past” had only taken place to a limited extent.

Finally, the author sheds light on the volatile relations between various religious communities focusing on the Muslim community. She emphasizes its active role in bringing different actors together and points out that nonetheless there had been an increasing alienation especially between Jews and Muslims in later years, also due to international political developments.

Jonker’s analysis attributes mainly to old documents which she inventoried in the course of the exploration of the archive of the Ahmadiyya Lahore Mosque in Berlin. Meanwhile, all findings have been transferred to the Berlin State Archive.

 

The article can be downloaded here (only in German).