an historic speech in the German Parliament on Wednesday, President Shimon
Peres read Kaddish and spoke in Hebrew about the personal loss of his
grandfather and the special relationship between Israel and Germany that was
established in the wake of the holocaust.
the flags of the Bundenstag lowered to half-mast, Germany’s political leaders
paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the Nazis in a special parliament
session in honor of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
entire building rose to its feet as the Israeli President read Kaddish for the
six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War.
the International Remembrance Day for the victims of the Holocaust is the day
on which the sun shone for the first time sixty-five years ago, after six evil
years, its rays revealing the full extent of the destruction of my people,”
January 27th, 1945, the world awoke to the fact, somewhat too late,
that six million Jews were no longer among the living.
day not only represents a memorial day for the victims, not only the pangs of
conscience of humankind in the face of the incomprehensible atrocity that took
place, but also of the tragedy that derived from the procrastination in taking
rarely speaks about his own personal loss, but chose to do so in the historic
setting, sharing with the German leadership and the people across the worlds
who heard his words, his memories from his beloved grandfather.
can see in my mind's eye, at this very moment, the imposing image of my deeply
respected grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Melzer, handsome and dignified. I was blessed
to have been his beloved grandson.
He was my guide and mentor.
still remember him at the train station from which I, an 11-year-old child,
started on my journey from my village to Eretz Israel.
remember his poignant embrace. I remember the last words and the order that
heard from his mouth: ‘My boy, always remain a Jew!’
train whistled and started on its way.
I continued watching my grandfather until he disappeared from sight.
That was the last time I saw him.”
chose in his speech to Present Israel as the Jewish people’s answer to the Nazi
a Jew, I always carry the pain of the holocaust endured by my brothers and
sisters. As an Israeli, I regret the tragic delay in the establishment of the
Jewish State that left my people with no safe harbor.
a grandfather, I cannot come to terms with the loss of one and a half million
children – the greatest human and creative potential that could have changed
am proud that we are the arch-enemy of Nazi evil.”
also spoke about the legacy of the holocaust and gave his own interpretation of
the words "Never again."
again a racist doctrine. Never again the feeling of superiority.
again a so-called divine authority to incite, murder, scorn the law, deny God
and the Holocaust.
again ignore blood-thirsty dictators, hiding behind demagogical masks, who
utter murderous slogans.”
also spoke about the present threat to peace and stability and hinted at the
threat the Israel currently faces from nuclear ambitious neighbors.
threats to annihilate a people and a nation are voiced in the shadow of weapons
of mass-destruction, which are held by irresponsible hands, by irrational
thinking and in an untruthful language.“
the German People and their political leaders Peres, spoke about the special
relationship that exists between Israel and Germany.
friendship that was established did not develop at the expense of forsaking the
memory of the Holocaust, but from the memory of the dark hours of the past. In
view of the joint and decisive decision to look ahead – towards the horizon of
optimistic hope. Tikkun Olam – putting
the world aright.”
believed, and continue to believe, that the new Germany will be doing whatever
needs to be done to ensure that the Jewish state will never again have to fight
for its survival alone.
murderous and condescending dictatorships will never again raise their heads,
in our era.”
speaking about Israel’s survival against all odds and its many achievements,
Peres turned to the topic of Peace.
victories did not eliminate the dangers it faces. We do not crave for land
which is not ours. We do not wish
to rule other peoples…. Our national ambition is distinct and clear, to make
peace with our neighbors.
supports the principle of the ‘two-state solution’.
paid a price in wars, we did not hesitate to also pay a price for peace.”
spoke about the need for the world to join forces in apposing dictatorships and
oppressive regimes and for the first time in his speech named Iran specifically
as a dangerous agent.
our neighbors, we identify with the millions of Iranians who revolt against
dictatorship and violence.
them we reject a fanatic regime, which contradicts the United Nations Charter. A regime which threatens destruction,
accompanied by nuclear plants and missiles and who activates terror in its
country and in other countries.
regime is a danger to the entire world,” stated Peres to the loud applause of
those sitting in the audience.
concluded by presenting a vision of optimism for the middle East.
want to learn from the Europeans, who unshackled Europe from a thousand years
of war, and bitterness and enabled Europe's young to substitute the hostility
of their forefathers by brotherhood.
would be wise to learn from their experience, to dream about a Middle East in
which its countries will depart from the conflicts of their parents on behalf
of peace for their children.”
concluded the speech by reciting the words of the Israeli national anthem.
speech was translated simultaneously into German and English. It lasted 25
minutes and when he finished he was applauded with a long and loud standing
event was attended by the members of the two German houses of parliament, the
President and Chancellor of Germany, the Mayor of Berlin, Ambassadors from
around the world and a contingent of holocaust survivors.
before Peres, was Dr. Norbert Lammert, the President of the Bundenstag, Germany's
second-highest ranking official after the President.
we remember all of the victims of the Nazi regime, all those who were robbed of
their dignity, their health, their worldly possessions and indeed of their
lives. European Jews, Gypsy and Roma, people with disabilities, forced
laborers, homosexuals, political dissenters, artists, academics, all those
people who were vilified and persecuted as enemies of National Socialism,” said
renew our promise not to forget the past. We are aware of the responsibility we
bare to combat any form of hate, intolerance, discrimination, exclusion and
anti-Semitism with determination.”
also spoke of the relationship between Germany and Israel, saying it was not,
has never been and will never be normal. “We Germans bare a responsibility for
the state of Isrel. Whenever the right of existence of the state of Israel and
the safety of its population is under threat, where the right of its people to
live in secure borders is threatened, there can be no neutrality for us
Germans,” said Lammert, garnering applause. “Some things are negotiable, yet
Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable. The existence of a country armed
with nuclear weapons in its neighborhood led by an openly anti-Semitic regime,
is unacceptable, not only to Israel, the International community as a
whole, must not tolerate such a
the speeches a small anti-Israel demonstration took place outside the parlimet
building. Local reporters said that the protestors apposed Peres’s presence and
that the protester said that the honor should have been given to Richard
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