Around lunchtime on Wednesday (9 October) a heavily armed man first attempted to shoot open the doors of the synagogue in in Halle (Saxony-Anhalt). Around 70 or 80 people were inside the synagogue celebrating Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar. When he failed to open the doors, he took aim at a nearby kebab restaurant. Two people were killed in the attack.
Sign of solidarity in Berlin
"Our solidarity is with all Jewish people on Yom Kippur. Our thanks go to the security forces who are still deployed," said federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert on behalf of the German government. Chancellor Angela Merkel was kept informed about the situation following the attack in Halle by Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and the state premier of Saxony-Anhalt Reiner Haseloff.
On the evening of 9 October Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a vigil at the new synagogue in Central Berlin, as a sign of solidarity.
Under the banner "We stand together", the people of Berlin, members of the Jewish community and Berlin’s Senate gathered spontaneously in front of the synagogue, driven by the same conviction - "We must stand resolutely against every form of anti-Semitism."
Federal Interior Minister in Halle
On Thursday Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is to visit Halle along with the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, and Maram Stern (from the World Jewish Congress). They will be visiting the synagogue along with state interior minister Holger Stahlknecht.
Earlier, Horst Seehofer had said how appalled he was. The holiest day in the Jewish year, Yom Kipper, was now "a black day" for the Jewish community in Germany, he said. He condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms and stressed, "This is an abhorrent attack on our peaceful coexistence. I am thinking of the victims and their families, and I wish those injured a full and speedy recovery."
Federal President calls for solidarity
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is also expected in Halle on Thursday. Following the attack he called for solidarity with the Jewish people in Germany. The Federal President was informed about the attack on the full synagogue during a ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig.
In spite of the tens of thousands of people who were celebrating reunification, there could be no more genuine joy in view of the fatal attack, he said. "A day of joy has become a day of suffering." His thoughts, he said, were with the families of the victims.
Following the fatal shooting in Halle/Saale the federal prosecutor’s office is investigating murder with special significance. A press conference is to be held in Halle in the afternoon.