At least four shots from a live weapon were fired at the door of the rabbi's house next to the old synagogue in Essen. No one was injured, police said on Friday. The man who is said to have fired the shots is still being sought. An institute for German-Jewish history is housed in the building hit. It borders directly on the Old Synagogue, which is now used as a cultural center and no longer as a place of worship. North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) spoke of an "attack".
According to a police spokesman, witnesses reported the bullet holes around 8:30 a.m. on Friday. It was initially unclear when the shots were fired. "We strongly believe it was sometime during the night when nobody was there," the spokesman said. There are video recordings from a camera filming the square, showing a person who is said to have committed the crime. However, a police spokesman said: "The quality of these recordings is extremely poor." According to Reul, who visited the crime scene, a male suspect is being sought. State security is involved.
According to the police spokesman, the shots hit a glass front door. The frame was damaged and shots were fired through the pane. Based on the evidence, it is now clear that it was a live firearm.
Reul said: "The attack on the old synagogue in Essen shakes me deeply." The Jewish community in Essen can "rely on us doing everything we can to identify the perpetrator as quickly as possible."
North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) wrote on Twitter that the shots at the synagogue shocked and appalled him. One stands by the side of the Jews in North Rhine-Westphalia and protects them against hatred and violence. "Jewish life is part of our country, part of us - today and every other day," he wrote. NRW Economics Minister Mona Neubaur (Greens) wrote on Twitter that the incident unfortunately once again made it painfully clear "that our efforts to protect Jewish life must not let up".
According to a city spokeswoman, the rabbi's house is not used by the Jewish community. It is - structurally not separated from it - immediately next to the synagogue building. According to the city, the Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute for German-Jewish History with archive and library as well as rooms of the University of Duisburg-Essen are housed in the Rabbinerhaus. The Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute researches the history and culture of Jews in German-speaking countries.
Today the Old Synagogue is the House of Jewish Culture in Essen, a cultural institute in the city. The place of worship for the city's Jewish community is the new synagogue just outside the center. According to a city spokeswoman, the Old Synagogue has exhibitions and events on Jewish history. The religious community also meets there on special occasions, for example to commemorate the pogrom night of November 9, 1938. At that time, the old synagogue and the rabbi's house were set on fire and the interior destroyed. Due to an abstract danger, the police are always on site during the opening hours of the Old Synagogue - as is usual with objects with a Jewish connection.
Essen's Mayor Thomas Kufen (CDU) said on Facebook: "This news upsets me very much!" The Greens member of the Bundestag for Essen, Kai Gehring, said: "The disgusting attack must be cleared up as quickly as possible and without any gaps." Continuous protection of Jewish institutions and a consistent, broad - civil society as well as political - fight against anti-Semitism is needed. NRW Integration Minister Josefine Paul (Greens) wrote on Twitter that the act shows "that we must not let up in protecting Jewish life and fighting anti-Semitism."