Bundestag president Bärbel Bas was greeted by Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy on Wednesday at a special welcoming ceremony at the Knesset.
Bas will take part in events marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Knesset this week.
“The lessons of the Holocaust require us to never tolerate the emergence and spread of antisemitism,” Bas said. “Germany’s responsibility has not come to an end. We stand with Israel.”
She was invited by Levy, who tearfully addressed the Bundestag in Berlin in January on the day when the Holocaust is commemorated in Europe.
“Your participation in the Knesset’s ceremonies marking Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is a significant and meaningful expression of the special connection between our countries, the historical responsibility Germany has taken for the crimes of the Holocaust, and Germany’s commitment to the security of the State of Israel,” Levy told Bas.
It will be the first time a senior German official participates in the Knesset’s Holocaust memorial events.
On Wednesday morning, Levy and Bas toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum together. The climax of her visit to the Knesset is expected to take place Thursday, when she will participate in the national Unto Every Person There is a Name ceremony, in which the names of Holocaust victims are read aloud at the Knesset on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The theme of this year’s event is Transports to Extinction: The Deportation of the Jews during the Holocaust.
During the ceremony, which will be held in Chagall Hall for the 33rd time, six memorial candles will be lit by Holocaust survivors and members of Knesset in memory of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. The ceremony will be attended by the president, the prime minister, the speaker of the Knesset, the president of the Supreme Court, the leader of the opposition, and the chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate.
Before the ceremony, Bas will attend a special memorial service to be held at the entrance to the Knesset, where she will light a personal memorial candle in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
She asked to light a memorial candle bearing the name and story of Irma Nathan, who lived in her hometown of Duisburg. Nathan was the head of the welfare committee of the Jewish community in Duisburg, until she was deported with her husband in April 1942–exactly 80 years ago – to the Izbica transit camp, where they were murdered.
Levy chose to light a memorial candle with the name of Joseph (Peppo) Varouh, one of the leaders of the uprising in Auschwitz. Varouh was a Jewish officer in the Greek army who perished in Auschwitz in 1944.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Bas and asked her to thank German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for all he is doing to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
“This is an important day, full of meaning, and it is that way because of the significant steps that have been taken to honor the memory of the Holocaust in Germany and deepen the ties between our two countries,” Bennett told her.