The 2019 Halle Synagogue Attack

The German far-right extremist Stephan Balliet (born in 1992) who perpetrated the terrorist attack on the synagogue in Halle (Saale) and murdered and injured several bystanders, believed in an antisemitic version of the narrative of the “Great Replacement”. For him the Jews are the driving force behind the mass-migration of Muslims and black people to Europe and North America that are allegedly replacing the white people and perpetrating a “genocide on the white race”.

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In the fashion of a typical conspiracy theory, Jews are seen as a homogenic collective that controls politics in a nefarious fashion. They are ascribed incredible political power over the media and the state. This means they are blamed for social developments disliked by the believers like mass migrations.

The narrative creates a racist hierarchy of undesirable people with the Jews on top and black people and Muslims below. It denies human rights and civic freedoms for those in favor of racist authoritarianism.

In the case of the Halle-attack, the Jews inside were only prevented from becoming mass casualties of a right-wing terrorist because the door of the synagogue was locked. The attack further drives a wedge between the Jewish community and the rest of society and spreads fear among Jewish people.

This extremist narrative undermines civic and democratic norms by proposing nefarious conspiracies – it stigmatizes Jews as enemies of Western society, endangering their lives. It emboldens violence against Jews and other minorities such as black and Muslim migrants or all those deemed as enemies by the proponents of this antisemitic and racist narrative.

It is very hard and often impossible to get people to disavow these kinds of conspiracy theories. It is very important to think of your health and safety when confronted with believers of such a narrative. From a safe position critiques can be offered, such as to point out that Jews are not a monolithic collective, that decision makers in Western societies are by and large not Jewish. Migrations have complex push and pull factors that are entirely independent of the will or powers of Jewish people.


Prozess zu Anschlag in Halle: Das Fanal (article about the first day of the trial against Stephan Balliet on the website of the daily newspaper Taz on July 21, 2020)


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