In an official and historic visit, the Bundestag President Barbel Bas arrived in Israel Wednesday to participate in Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is the first time that a senior German official has taken part in Israel's Holocaust remembrance ceremonies.
Bas began her visit to Israel with a special tour of Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center, located in Jerusalem, accompanied by Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy.
After the tour, Bas was officially welcomed to Israel in an official ceremony held in the Knesset Courtyard.
“Israel and Germany are true friends and I am grateful for that. I view your invitation to attend Holocaust Remembrance Day events as an honor and a vote of confidence and trust,” Bas wrote in the Knesset guestbook. “I humbly bow my head as I reflect upon the inconceivable suffering of the victims of the crimes against humanity committed by the Germans. The lessons of the Holocaust require us to never tolerate the emergence and spread of anti-Semitism. Germany's responsibility has not ended. We stand with Israel.”
Levy thanked Barbel for coming to Israel and attending the Holocaust ceremonies.
“I thank president of the Bundestag, Barbel Bas, a true friend of Israel, for accepting my invitation to come to Israel and Jerusalem during this special time,” Levy said. “Your participation in the ceremonies commemorating Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day in the Knesset is a significant expression of the special connection between our countries, the historical responsibility that Germany has taken for the crimes of the Holocaust, and Germany's commitment to the security of the State of Israel.”
Later in the day, Bas met with Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who survived the Holocaust and came to Israel as a child. American forces in Buchenwald liberated Lau when he was just eight years old.
In the evening, Bas, Levy and Rabbi Lau arrived together at Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto Square Plaza for the opening ceremony of the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes' Remembrance Day.
Bas participated in Israel’s “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony on Thursday, an annual event during which Knesset members read out the names of Holocaust victims. This year’s theme was “Transports to Extinction: The Deportation of the Jews during the Holocaust.”
During the ceremony, Holocaust survivors lit six memorial candles to represent the six million Jews that were killed by the Nazis. Bas asked to light a special personal memorial candle during a memorial service held at the Parliament building. The candle bore the name and story of Irma Natan, who lived in Bas' hometown of Duisburg in western Germany. Natan was the head of welfare in Duisburg’s Jewish community until she was deported with her husband in April 1942 to the Izbica transit camp.
During her visit to Israel, Bas stressed the strong relationship between Israel and Germany that has developed since the Holocaust. “Our shared memory on Holocaust Remembrance Day emphasizes the strength of the German-Israeli friendship and the high levels of trust developed between our countries over the years,” Bas said. “This friendship is a wonder and a blessing. I thank the speaker of the Knesset for his invitation. It is a powerful gesture and demonstration of trust.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.