'We are the arch-enemy of Nazi evil'

Bundenstag rises to its feet as president reads Kaddish for the six million.

January 27, 2010 16:58
'We are the arch-enemy of Nazi evil'

Shimon Peres. (photo credit: )


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In 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.

With 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.

The 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.

“Today, 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,” said Peres.

 “On January 27th, 1945, the world awoke to the fact, somewhat too late, that six million Jews were no longer among the living.

 “This 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 action.”

 Peres 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.

 “I 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.

 “I 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.

I remember his poignant embrace. I remember the last words and the order that heard from his mouth: ‘My boy, always remain a Jew!’

The 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.”

 Peres chose in his speech to Present Israel as the Jewish people’s answer to the Nazi atrocities.

“As 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.

“As 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 Israel's destiny.

“I am proud that we are the arch-enemy of Nazi evil.”

 Peres also spoke about the legacy of the holocaust and gave his own interpretation of the words "Never again."

“Never again a racist doctrine. Never again the feeling of superiority.

Never again a so-called divine authority to incite, murder, scorn the law, deny God and the Holocaust.

“Never again ignore blood-thirsty dictators, hiding behind demagogical masks, who utter murderous slogans.”

Peres also spoke about the present threat to peace and stability and hinted at the threat the Israel currently faces from nuclear ambitious neighbors.

“The 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.“

Addressing the German People and their political leaders Peres, spoke about the special relationship that exists between Israel and Germany.

“The 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.”

“We 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.

“That murderous and condescending dictatorships will never again raise their heads, in our era.”

After speaking about Israel’s survival against all odds and its many achievements, Peres turned to the topic of Peace.

Israel's 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.

“Israel supports the principle of the ‘two-state solution’.

“We paid a price in wars, we did not hesitate to also pay a price for peace.”

 Peres 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.

“Like our neighbors, we identify with the millions of Iranians who revolt against dictatorship and violence.

“Like 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.

“This regime is a danger to the entire world,” stated Peres to the loud applause of those sitting in the audience.

Peres concluded by presenting a vision of optimism for the middle East.

“We 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.

“It 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.”

He concluded the speech by reciting the words of the Israeli national anthem.

Peres’s 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 ovation.

The 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.

Speaking before Peres, was Dr. Norbert Lammert, the President of the Bundenstag, Germany's second-highest ranking official after the President.

“Today 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 Lammert.

“We 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.”

Lammert 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 thing.”

During 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 Goldstone.

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