IDF Veterans conclude 8–day bonding event in Germany

Israeli, German armed forces take joint tours of concentration camps in efforts to foment closer ties between countries, militaries.

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
September 21, 2011 06:48
1 minute read.
Jorg O. Zelt.

JÖRG O. ZELT,. (photo credit: The Molinari Foundation)

BERLIN – A delegation of 31 IDF veterans returned to Israel Monday after an eight-day visit to Germany.

The retired IDF personnel took part in the event “Israel and Germany - Burdened History, Common Presence and Joint Future.”

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Jörg O. Zelt, who is deputy director of the Educational Institution of the German Armed Forces Association, which organized the visit, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday “there is a very good working relationship and foundation” between the two armies.

“The cooperation between the Bundeswehr [German armed forces] and the IDF is good and better than the public knows,” Zelt, an expert in German-Israeli military relations, said. A German military delegation is slated to visit Israel next year. “We will see you next year in Jerusalem,” he said.

According to Zelt, a female lieutenant-colonel from Israel told him it was important for her to see that contemporary Germany is “a different Germany.” She had hesitated to visit because of Germany’s Nazi past and its destruction of European Jewry.

The Molinari Foundation, which provides ongoing educational services for Bundeswehr soldiers and veterans, said in a statement that “we both, the Germans and the [Israeli] Jews today have learned from our common burdened history. The common history of our ancestors as perpetrators and victims is the background on which our two nations cooperate and support each other and has let us become friends.”

The visit included trips to memorials, military associations, museums and government institutions.

The delegation visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the center of Berlin’s government district and the Bundestag, the federal parliament. The veterans also traveled to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp memorial, which lies just outside of Berlin.


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