German army chief makes historic visit to Yad Vashem

Volker Wieker participates in memorial ceremony; IDF chief: "I think this illustrates the strong ties between the two countries."

October 12, 2010 20:58
1 minute read.
German army chief of staff Volker Wieker.

german_chief_311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

General Volker Wieker toured Yad Vashem yesterday on a historic visit by the German army’s highest ranking officer to the museum which commemorates the six million European Jews murdered by Nazi Germany during World War II.

He was accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

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“I am proud to stand here as the IDF chief of staff, side by side with the German chief of staff,” Ashkenazi said. “I think this illustrates the strong ties between the two countries.”

The two generals participated in a ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance and later toured the Children’s Memorial. At the close of his visit the German chief of staff signed the guest book with a poem by German author Erich Kastner.

“The past must speak/ and we must listen/ because if we don’t/ we shall never find peace,” Wieker read aloud.

Coincidentally, Finland’s President Tarja Halonen visited Yad Vashem a few hours prior to Wieker to pay her respects to the victims of the Holocaust.

Finland was a reluctant ally of Germany during World War II when the two countries fought together against the Soviet Union. In 1941 Britain even declared war on Finland in a rare example cited by political scientists of democracies fighting each other.

However, despite Helsinki’s allegiance with Berlin, it refused to expel or oppress its Jewish citizens.

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