Israeli President discusses horrors and ties in German parliament | Your money

BERLIN (AP) — Israel’s president addressed the German parliament on Tuesday about atrocities committed during the Third Reich, while praising the close and friendly relations that have emerged between the two countries since the end of the Holocaust.

Six million European Jews were murdered by the German Nazis and their henchmen during World War II.

“Never in the history of mankind has there been a campaign like the one the Nazis and their accomplices waged to annihilate the Jewish people,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog told Bundestag lawmakers.

“Never in history has a state been responsible, as was Nazi Germany, for the loss of all semblance of humanity, for the erasure of all mercy, for the further global obliteration , with such awful cruelty, of a whole people.”

Herzog also spoke of his father, former Israeli President Chaim Herzog, who was among the liberators of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany in April 1945, as an officer in the British forces.

“I will never forget how he described to me the horrors he witnessed. The stench. The human skeletons in striped pajamas, the piles of corpses, the destruction, hell on earth,” the Israeli president told German lawmakers.

Looking ahead, Herzog hailed the close relations between the two countries and their joint commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism.

“The partnership between Israel and Germany has gained worldwide renown, and we must continue to deepen and cultivate it, for the benefit of a bright future not only for our countries but for all of humanity.” , he told parliament.

After his speech, Herzog and Steinmeier, accompanied by their wives, traveled to Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews – a field of 2,700 gray concrete slabs near the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate – where they laid two wreaths for the victims of the Holocaust.

On Tuesday afternoon, the two presidents visited the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

After a visit to the memorial site where they met survivors and German high school students, Steinmeier said in a speech that “it took the Germans a long time to realize that they themselves were also liberated at this time, namely from their murderous ideology and from an inhuman dictatorship”.

“The fact that we Germans have been able to live in freedom and democracy again, at least in the West, is largely due to the Allied liberators,” he added.

Over 52,000 prisoners, mostly Jews, died in the concentration camp and over 19,000 POWs, mostly from the Soviet Union, died in the adjacent POW camp.

Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel for the World Jewish Congress and son of Bergen-Belsen survivors, met with Herzog and Steinmeier after the official ceremony at the memorial site. Rosensaft was born in the displaced persons camp adjacent to the concentration camp shortly after the end of World War II.

“Both presidents have made it clear that the memory of the evil perpetrated in Bergen-Belsen should be a beacon for the future of both nations,” he told The Associated Press. “For Herzog in particular, the visit was clearly a personal pilgrimage rooted in his father’s experience in liberating the camp.”

The Israeli president arrived in Germany earlier this week for a state visit that also included a trip to Munich on Monday where he took part in the 50th anniversary ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Olympics.


Tia Goldberg contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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