Ceremony held at Platform 17; President Rivlin and German President Gauck in attendance
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin traveled to Berlin on Monday participating in a memorial ceremony on Platform 17 at the Grunewald Station, the location in which 50,000 Jews were deported to death camps, commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.
The ceremony was held by both Rivlin and German President Joachim Gauck, and attended by Israeli diplomats, Germany’s diplomat to Israel, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, as well as large numbers from Germany’s Jewish community. Following the ceremony Rivlin was presented with the “Guard of Honor”.
Speaking in the memorial service, Rivlin addressed increased anti-Semitism stating, “Seventy years have passed since the last transport left Platform 17; yet once again, fascist and neo-Nazi movements are growing stronger and stronger on European soil. Apathy, indifference, or denial is not the answer. The German people did not wake up one morning, to the swastikas of the Third Reich. Anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and frustration grew like a cancer under the surface for many years. This poisoned soil was the foundation, on which the Nazi monster acted unchallenged.”
Rivlin stated, “I am very worried. Worldwide anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish slogans are on the rise. In the entire free world- and especially in Europe, given its not too distant past- alarm bells should be ringing” adding, “we must remember, democracy alone does not make us immune to nationalism and fascism. No nation is immune to anti-Semitism. No nation is immune to extremism or fundamentalism. Here, on Platform 17, we must commit, to look hatred in the eye.”
German President Joachim Gauck stated that during demonstrations against Operation Protective Edge that “In Germany too, during demonstrations last year, we saw anti-Semitism, some of it cloaked as criticism of Israel, some of it open…In addition to a ‘traditional’ anti-Semitism we are increasingly confronted with anti-Semitism from immigrant families… This has made me and the overwhelming majority of Germans feel deeply ashamed”.
Following the ceremony Rivlin met with Gauck, addressing the press afterwards stating on Israel-German ties that, “This is a close relationship, which we can appreciate without reference to the difficult past we share. In light of this difficult past, I think this relationship is even rarer and more special. It is based on shared values of democracy, freedom of expression and equal rights. It’s important to state the close and warm connection between the people of Israel and Germany and between the two governments does not constitute, in any form, compensation for the Holocaust.”
President Gauck then stated, “We are connected, not only by the horrendous crimes of the past, but by the values in which we both believe. The ties between our countries, do not solely find expression in the close friendship between our governments, but in the many citizens involved in cooperation and partnership projects. Our strong connections exist not only between our governments but also between our civil societies, artists, and journalists” adding, “I welcome the fact that so many Israelis not only come to visit Berlin, but also choose to live in the city that symbolizes that Germany is open to all.”