At the end of his trip to Germany, Israel's President Izchak Herzog called for closer cooperation between the two countries and commemorated the victims of the Shoah. In a moving speech in the Bundestag, Herzog emphasized that the memory of German crimes during the Nazi regime must be preserved.
"The Jewish nation is a nation of remembrance," the President said on Tuesday, before urging MPs and guests to rise to pray for the souls of the six million murdered Jews. The Duke and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier then commemorated the victims at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin and at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp memorial in Lower Saxony.
In Bergen-Belsen, the two heads of state laid wreaths and spoke to young people and survivors. "The Shoah is a painful part of German history that belongs to us, that we must not deny and that we must never forget. What should not be repeated must not be forgotten," stressed Steinmeier. The friendship between Germany and Israel is a great gift. "The past obliges us, and we want to shape the future together."
The Federal President also warned urgently that anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past: "In view of the graves of the dead of Bergen-Belsen and millions of people murdered in the Shoah, any form of anti-Semitism, which unfortunately still exists in Germany today, is an alarm signal for our country . Anti-Semitism must have no place in our society. Wherever it becomes visible, we must oppose it, resolutely and from the start." Herzog also called for an "uncompromising" fight against anti-Semitism and racism. "This is our duty - in the name of the past, for the future," he said.
Herzog's father saw the horror in Bergen-Belsen
Because what the British soldiers saw when the camp was liberated a few days before the end of the war can hardly be put into words: they found more than 10,000 unburied bodies, around 53,000 people were liberated, but for many thousands of them the help came too late. Anne Frank, known for her diary, also lies in one of the 13 mass graves. A total of around 52,000 people died in the concentration camp and immediately after the liberation, plus almost 20,000 dead in the adjacent prisoner of war camp.
Symbol of Nazi crimes
Bergen-Belsen thus became a symbol of Nazi crimes worldwide, as a place of utter contempt for life. Izchak Herzog reported that he would never forget his father's descriptions of the mountains of corpses and "hell on earth". "He saw the evil before his eyes. He saw the hypocrisy of the people in the neighboring villages who said they knew nothing."
The President had previously warned in the Bundestag that sinister, hateful forces led by Iran are currently threatening the State of Israel and the entire world order. It is therefore necessary to take "decisive and tough" action against Iran and its plans to develop nuclear weapons.
Probably also with a view to the Middle East conflict and the rights of the Palestinians, Herzog said: "We never feared criticism, we never stopped criticism." Israel stretch out its hand in peace. The Palestinians would have to fight terrorism first.
The day before, Herzog and Steinmeier had commemorated the victims of the 1972 Olympic attack. After the agreement on compensation, the Federal President asked for forgiveness on behalf of Germany. In the attack by Palestinian terrorists, eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team and a German policeman were killed, and five attackers were killed.