Frankfurt has elected a Jewish mayor, marking the first time since the Nazi era began in 1933 that a major German city will be led by a Jew, Die Welt reports.Social Democrat (SPD) Peter Feldmann, 53, won 57.4 per cent of the vote in a runoff, beating the Boris Rhein, the candidate fielded by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The win also means the CDU is out of power in Frankfurt for the first time in 17 years. “This is a big, big surprise,” Feldmann said. “Nobody, including me, expected this.”
A political scientist and former director of an elderly care facility, Feldmann spent two years at a kibbutz in Israel when he was younger. A “liberal Jew”, he is also the co-founder and spokesman of Arbeitskreis jüdischer Sozialdemokraten (AJS), a Jewish group within the SPD party. Feldmann’s election manifesto included promises to fight child poverty, adequate elder care, and low-income housing.
Outgoing Frankfurt Mayor Petra Roth (CDU) had previously said that big cities were the “laboratories of society”, where social changes are especially noticeable early on.
In 1933, Frankfurt was home to Germany’s second largest Jewish population, with over 30,000 residents, but by 1945 that number had been diminished to just over 600. It has since rebuilt that number to over 7,000 people, Algemeiner reports. Its last Jewish mayor, Ludwig Landmann, was elected in 1924.
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