Irena Wachendorff: The German Alibi Jew Who Wasn’t

Irena Wachendorff

We all have dreams. Uncle Junior wanted to screw Angie Dickinson, my mother wants to work in a funeral home and Irena Wachendorff just wants to be Jewish and the daughter of Shoah-survivors so she can criticize Israel. Is that so wrong?

Up until now, Wachendorff has made a decent career of being an Alibijude, an alibi Jew. The job is easy: If someone is accused of anti-Semitism, alibi Jews are brought in as defending witnesses. It’s the old “some of my best friends are pantomimes” routine, with an added speaking part for friends. In a country like Germany, where the Jewish community is only sporadically visible, being an Alibijude can be a worthwhile endeavor.

If all anyone ever talks about is how Israel is the root of all global evil, people might start to ask questions. This is when the accused is able to point to the the supportive alibi Jew, who in turn is able to point to his or her family history or just basic Jewishness and say something like: “What the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians is what the Nazis did to my parents.”
 Even better, you’re one yourself: Geert Wilders, famous for his vehement xenophobia and his stupid haircut, always likes to speculate about some Jewish heritage on his father’s side. Because then, you’re not a Nazi or a racist but a defender of Western values.

As an alibi Jew, Irena Wachendorff is the whole package (except for one simple fact.) Her mother was in Auschwitz—“I grew up with the number on her arm”—her father a tzadik who escaped to England. Irena herself was in the IDF during the Lebanon War. Today she’s a “German-Jewish poet” who lives in Israel six months every year to support an Arab-Jewish kindergarten. The rest of the year, she’s in Germany to act as the hazzan of her congregation and to send violins to Gaza.

Newspapers have written about her work as an activist and she’s been interviewed on local TV. She frequently talks to schoolchildren about her parents’ fate. Wachendorff is also quite active in discussions on the Facebook page of leading politician Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the foreign council of the German parliament, who has come under attack for perceived “anti-Israel” feelings. Polenz often points to Wachendorff when he needs support, which she will gladly supply:

“I think I should only take seriously someone who 1) was in the IDF, 2) has lived in Israel for at least two years and 3) is even Jewish. Hello…anybody here???”

Anybody here indeed. Because Irena Wachendorff is none of those things. Via some genuine journalism, writer Jennifer Nathalie Pyka—who is what one could call a “staunch supporter” of Israel, think Rory Gilmore meets Bill O’Reilly—found out the true story

Upon being asked, Wachendorff’s mother says she was never in Auschwitz—“my husband was though.” Probably not as an inmate: He wasn’t an Orthodox Jew but a Protestant officer of the Wehrmacht. A speaker of the Israeli army can find no record of an Irena Wachendorff having ever been in the IDF. During the Lebanon war, Irena Wachendorff acted in various productions in local theaters in the Rhine region. The kindergarten she supports does exist, but there is no evidence of her ever having visited it. And finally, she isn’t a member of her alleged congregation.

This is not without precedent. Every couple of years, some fake Jew is revealed. This very publication once had a contest for the best invented Shoah memoirs. What makes this case so interesting is that a leading German politician was fooled. Polenz has released a statement saying that he’s not resposible for the third party’s opinion, that he still supports this dubious Jewish-Arab kindergarten and he’s disgusted with this prying into Wachendorffs private life: “This is like an Ariernachweis [certificate of being Aryan] in reverse.”

It is Polenz’s association with Wachendorff when it comes to discussing Israel that turned this into a story, however. As Pyka says, “Instead of offering arguments, Wachendorff talked only about her background and her experiences in the IDF.” 

Now that it’s clear that Wachendorff has lied about all those things, does that change her work for this Jewish-Arab-kindergarten? She still clings to most of her story, but is she just suffering from some dissociative fugue? Pyka isn’t sure but has called a follow-up article “The Protocols of the Loon of Remagen,” Remagen being the hometown of Wachendorff.

After the initial article, Wachendorff wrote on Facebook that she had deliberately spread false information about herself as to protect her family and her congregation. When the Jerusalem Post called her some days later, she said that she doesn’t really remember what camp her mother was in exactly and that she isn’t too sure whether that’s a number on her arm or something else. After that, she deleted her Facebook profile and hasn’t been heard from since.

There is a lesson to be learned: one of the few things more heinous than an alibi Jews is an alibi Jew who isn’t even Jewish.

What do you think?

About The Author

Fabian Wolff

Fabian Wolff was born in East Berlin just before the wall came down and is, sadly, still living there. He writes all kinds of things and desperately tries to out-Jew Leon Wieseltier. Has some funny stories about dead animals, too.

17 Responses

  1. Yuli Kornblum

    This is certainly an interesting twist, to lie abut the Jews and to lie about being a Jew. Maybe the Messiah is about the come after all giving the fact that so many want to be a Jew, maybe for the wrong reason but still, isn’t it a great honor? The fact is that if one hates Israel he will find more then few real Jews willing to say all kind of bad things about Israel. I think the correct reply to such people is to tell them that they are anti Jewish themselves because they selected Jews that are against Israel while there are many other Jews who will say good thing about Israel and were not selected. Unfortunately you don’t have as far as Germany for this you can find plenty of Jews hating Israel in the USA.

    • Devorah

      What constitutes one being Jewish.? Birth, conversion, observant? Maybe it is not about being Jewish at all, but about being connected to the Ein Sof. The creator of the universe.

  2. Myriam El-Bittar

    This is beyond offensive and a slap in the face to those who actually suffered the atrocities of the Shoah.
    For the daughter of a Wehrmacht officer to have the blatant chutzpah to dare and condemn a country built by those who were victims leaves me stunned.

  3. Matthias

    “Polenz often points to Wachendorff when he needs support”

    I don’t think thats true. What for would a respected politican like Polenz (having good relations to Israel himself) need support from Wachendorff? He is perfectly capable of arguing himself. Can you show some quotes to prove your claim?

    “dubious Jewish-Arab kindergarten”

    Whats so dubios about the kindergarten? According to Polenz, Ein Bustan is approved by the israeli government. Or do you find it dubious to have jewish and arabs kids together?

  4. Lev Lou

    Thanks to Wolff and whoever else helped uncover the truth of this lunatic. “Alibijudes”? Wow, I had never heard the term! Amazing issues raised in terms of human psychology — it would seem that she’s completely delusional, not simply an antiSemite, which we all know is as common as dirt.

  5. Yuli Kornblum

    There is no problem with Jewish Arab kindergarten. However many use this to avoid the real situation which is the war the Moslem forced on the Jews. Many such people use such and similar examples to show that Arab and Jews can live together but they ignore the fact that this was not a problem and many people who are not familiar with the situation may fall for this. I know that a prominent Jewish leader used language like “if Jews and Arab can live together than Jews and Palestinians can live together too”. Such statement of course ignores the fact that the Palestinians were invented by the Arabs to fight Israel. So we got to be careful to point to the real problem and not to some invented problem

  6. McQueen

    Why bring Wilders into this? He hasn’t attacked Jews. Whatever you feel about his opinions his inclusion in this article makes no sense.

  7. susan silver

    this is so disgusting! real or false “alibi Jews..i.e self hating Jews are despicable.

  8. Scorpio

    Of course this exposing of another “defenders of the oppressed” is badly needed. Anything that embarrasses them – if anything can – is to the good. You had me until you fell into the left-side trap.
    Geert Wilders is no Nazi. He is no enemy of the Jews. He’s on our side on many issues. Why pick on him? To burnish your own liberal credentials?
    Do we have many friends among those you consider of the proper political persuasion?
    Grow up.
    Dance with th’ one who brung ya.
    An old Newfoundland adage.

  9. jewdar

    While Jewdar is loathe to criticize a fellow contributor, the whole “intolerance towards members of a certain group equals ‘Nazi'” thing is a bit tiresome, and certainly, in the case of critics of Muslim fundamentalism, a bit wacky. If one were to look at the social ideals of Wilders and those of Muslim fundamentalism (which is far more broad and influential than some people want to pretend) and ask “which are closer to the values of the National Socialists?” who do you really think would be more “Nazi-like,” Wilders, or Imam So-And-so? Jewdar is pretty sure he knows the answer to that.

    And even with that, neither Wilders nor his Muslim targets are “nazis,” any more than they are Mugwumps, or Boxers or Chartists. For some reason, we can reocgnize that most political movements have some sort of specific context and meaning, but when it comes to Nazis, it’s a free-for-all. There are Nazis–they are people who adhere to the political and racial ideology of the National Socialists. Other people may be awful and unlikable, but you can be awful and unlikable without being a nazi.

  10. Fabian Wolff
    Fabian W.

    Jewdar: You’re right, to call anyone a Nazi besides people who believe in the Nazi ideology is cheap and above all inaccurate. However, I do not believe that Wilders is any less a hatemongerer than any given of your hypothetical Imams.
    And whether Wilders is a friend of the Jews should be judged not only based on any perceived “solidarity” with Israel but him being for the ban on kosher slaughter in the Netherlands, I think.

  11. Ruth

    Email sent to Irena Wachendorff and her publisher:

    Have you absolutely no shame at all?

    What on earth were you trying to achieve by piling lie upon lie until the house of cards finally collapsed? Did you fraudulently obtain compensation payments from the German government? Did you think there was some kind of honor in claiming to be Jewish when you are not, claiming to have served in the IDF when you did not, claiming that your own mother was imprisoned in a death camp when she was not? Did you hope to improve your credibility when heaping vitriol and even more lies upon Israel?

    Did you ever lose sleep worrying that someone might investigate your claims and prove that you have appropriated other people’s identity, courage and suffering? Now it has happened, and you are wide awake to live a nightmare, revealed before G-d and the entire world as the despicable excuse for a human being you truly are.

    You will now have to cope with what you have brought upon yourself: the world’s contempt and a reputation shattered beyond repair. I repeat: you have brought this upon yourself and have no-one else to blame.

    Do not bother to reply. I want nothing from you, no explanations, no excuses and not even an apology.

  12. Jacques Vegas

    “Even better, you’re one yourself: Geert Wilders, famous for his vehement xenophobia and his stupid haircut, always likes to speculate about some Jewish heritage on his father’s side. Because then, you’re not a Nazi or a racist but a defender of Western values.

    WTF kinda drugs are you on?! Geert Wilders is a lot of things, incl. one of THE greatest European politicians of our time and a strong supporter of Israel who spent time in Israel as a young man, but a Nazi he is not in the least! Stop swallowing and parroting the false, politically correct propaganda the mainstream media have been spewing forth about GW for years and educate yourself about the man before you babble nonsense!

  13. Shlomith

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jacques Vegas. Geert Wilders is a brave and inspirational man. Would that more people would stand up and work to protect their nation and heritage.

    As for Wachendorff, she has the right to dislike Israel. Anyone can dislike any country, and so what? It doesn’t deserve an entire vitriolic article like this one.

  14. Ruth

    @Shlomith, you are being disingenuous. This woman can dislike whatever she wants. The issue here is that she lied about who and what she was, claiming that she was Jewish in order to deflect accusations of anti-Semitism. That is what merits vitriol and contempt.

  15. DSV

    The false and utterly stupid remark about Wilders completely pulled the rug from under this post, since it shows that you have no common sense whatsoever.


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