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German Synagogue Vandalized, and Set on Fire, Suspect Freed by Judge

A 21-year-old man is said to have smashed the window of a synagogue on New Year’s Eve in Ermreuth in the Forchheim district and then tried to start a fire. As the police headquarters in Upper Franconia and the public prosecutor’s office in Bamberg announced on Tuesday, witness statements and video surveillance of the synagogue led to the 21-year-old suspect being arrested last Thursday.

He is accused of vandalizing a window and throwing firecrackers inside. He wanted to start a fire, the police and prosecutors continued. According to initial findings, the investigators are assuming an antisemitic crime with a right-wing extremist background.

Due to the lack of a risk of absconding, the investigating judge at the district court in Bamberg refused to issue an arrest warrant last Friday. The suspect was therefore released. In the meantime, the public prosecutor’s office has lodged an appeal against this decision. Since Tuesday, the Central Office for Combating Extremism and Terrorism (ZET) has taken over the investigation.

The U.S. based Jewish advocacy group StopAntisemitism tweeted their outrage of the release.

Ludwig Spaenle (CSU), the antisemitism commissioner of the Bavarian state government, is appalled. He classifies the attack as “particularly disgusting” because particularly important and positive work is being done around the synagogue. Wanting to damage this cultural commitment with an attack is regrettable. Spaenle only visited the facility in November and met Mayor Martin Walz (CSU), whom he now offered to help if that should become necessary.

The village of Ermreuth has around 900 inhabitants and is part of the market town of Neunkirchen am Brand. The two-storey building of the former synagogue dates from the 19th century and was used for Jewish services until around 1930. The building was damaged and desecrated during the National Socialist pogroms in November 1938, but not destroyed.

In the past, Ermreuth was in the headlines several times because of right-wing extremists. From the late 1970s, Ermreuth Castle in the Forchheim district was the headquarters of the right-wing extremist organization Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann, which was banned in January 1980, as Günter Dippold, district home attendant for the Upper Franconia district, confirmed when asked by BR. In 1981, the police carried out excavations around Ermreuth Castle to find further evidence against the military sports group. Investigators had previously been able to secure weapons, explosives and ammunition.

The leader of the group, Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, still lived in the castle years later. Among other things, the Oktoberfest attack in 1980 went to the account of the Wehrsportgruppe. According to current knowledge, there is no connection between the crime and the military sports group.

Source: https://globeecho.com/news/europe/germany/attack-on-synagogue-police-suspect-right-wing-extremist-act/?_kx=Ee9M1QzLCTyB-Y-EyGui8FzIzYhM07ylm85vKSGFXHW8ItzS2ocrHIL4sf-14xHY.MBueSY