Marburg – The Jewish orchestra director Ilia Jossifov accused the manager of the Hessian State Theater of being harassed under the swastika. Jossifov is now withdrawing – and sharply condemning the politics responsible for the theater.
After allegations of antisemitism and bullying against Holger von Berg, managing director of the Hessian State Theater in Wiesbaden, there has now been a dismissal – of the alleged victim Ilia Jossifov. In his resignation letter on Sunday, Jossifov described “systematic antisemitic belittling and months of harassment” by von Berg since early 2022.
He accused the supervisory authority in the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art, led by Green Party politician Angela Dorn , of failure: to this day, they refuse to take any measures to protect his person.
“More than 70 years after the Holocaust,” Jossifov wrote, he and his family did not expect such “resistance.”
The ministry does have a report on the allegations of bullying that the ministry itself had commissioned from a private “conflict counselor”. The content of the report is so far under lock and key. According to their own statements, the alleged victim Jossifov and his lawyer Marcus Felsner have not yet been made accessible to him, despite repeated requests.
Felsner therefore raised serious allegations in a letter accompanying Jossifov’s resignation to the Ministry of Art: Minister Dorn had so far only had her “unsupported opinion (emphasis in the original, editor’s note) countered the “documented systematic disparagement of the Jewish orchestra director”, the behavior of Herr von Berg should not be assessed as antisemitic” – but without disclosing evidence for this opinion, ie the report.
The accused Holger von Berg did not utter a word of apology despite his “systematic disparagement (Ilia Jossifovs, editor’s note) in the sign of the swastika, which has been documented many times and in detail”. Instead, von Berg received “personal tips and public protection” from Dorn’s ministry against the allegations of antisemitic bullying. “The fact that a German state ministry can deal with the rights of a Jewish citizen and employee in this way in the 21st century is stunned beyond the borders of Germany,” Felsner concluded.
When asked by WELT, a spokesman for the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art referred to a statement by the Hessian antisemitism officer Uwe Becker from last year. Becker said at the time that from his point of view the process was not antisemitism.
The state of Hesse and the city of Wiesbaden had the matter “reviewed externally by an experienced expert”. Their report comes to the conclusion “that the factual basis established and processed does not justify the accusation of antisemitism”. The spokesman said that the ministry regrets “that Ilia Jossifov sees no other way than to resign”.
It is indisputable that the behavior of the stage management of the state theater led to conflicts in the house, the spokesman continued. “This is the reason for a series of measures at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden, which are intended to improve the working atmosphere and processes.”
Jossifov took up the post of orchestra director in Wiesbaden in spring 2022. Immediately afterwards, von Berg is said to have bullied Jossifov in the presence of a swastika poster that was hanging in von Berg’s office. Despite several requests, he hadn’t taken it down. Last year, when asked by WELT, von Berg rejected “any allegations of antisemitism” and referred to the origin of the posters, which were also created in the context of his efforts to clarify the Bayreuth Festival‘s responsibility for Nazi crimes.
Von Berg had become aware that the “meaningfulness” of the swastika poster “was not made sufficiently clear to outsiders”, which is why he sincerely apologizes for “unintentional injuries”. At the same time, he emphasized that there had been “never a point” in bullying.
The director of the Hessian State Theater, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, stood up to WELT, also last year, behind the now former orchestra director: Jossifov had been “massively bullied” and it was an “unsustainable and anti-Semitic process” that Jossifov was under a swastika had to hear that, if von Berg had his way, he “wouldn’t be here”. According to the director, each of his admonitions to von Berg’s address was ignored. Last autumn, Laufenberg warned: “Actually, the ministry could and should act, I don’t know why it doesn’t.”
It is not the first time Minister Dorn has been accused of inaction in the face of antisemitism. The Hesse FDP had already sharply criticized Dorn as part of the Documenta art show in Hesse, where many works with classic anti-Jewish and Israel-related antisemitism motifs were exhibited. “They looked the other way, even though there were clues,” said the Hessian state parliament in the direction of Dorns, according to a report by the ” Frankfurter Rundschau “.
Dorn himself had complained about the Documenta that inadequate responsibility structures made it possible to show antisemitic motifs there.