‘Memory Is Not a Thing of the Past’: Israeli, German Leaders Mark Yom HaShoah, Recite Names of Holocaust Victims
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Germany’s Bundestag President Bärbel Bas on Thursday recited names of Holocaust victims and lit memorial candles as part of the ceremonies marking Israel’s annual Holocaust commemoration day, Yom HaShoah.
“In Judaism, memory is not just a thing of the past but a layer that is added so every Jew continues to remember,” Bennett said at the ceremony in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem. “The memory of the Holocaust is not just a memory but a layer, part of the DNA that is passed down from generation to generation.”
The annual “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” event was attended by President Isaac Herzog, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy and other Israeli officials, as well as Holocaust survivors. Bundestag President Bas was the first German senior politician to participate in the ceremony, where Israeli heads of state recited the names of Holocaust victims and lit candles in their memory.
“I humbly bow my head in shame before the victims of the Holocaust. We cannot forget and we will not forget,” Bas said. “From our historical guilt stems a commitment. We must fight resolutely against antisemitism in all its forms and preserve and keep alive the memory to pass it on to the younger generations.”
Bas asked to light a candle in memory of Irma Nathan, a woman from her hometown Duisburg in western Germany, who was deported and perished during the Holocaust.
Nathan was the head of the welfare committee of the Jewish community in Duisburg, until she was deported with her husband from the city exactly 80 years ago, in April 1942, to the Izbica transit camp, from where they both never returned.
“Irma’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren never sat on her lap to keep her memory alive today and tell family stories,” Bas said. “A family has been wiped out, and almost a centuries-old culture.”
“My people bear responsibility for this,” she added.
Knesset Speaker Levy emphasized that Bas’ participation in the Yom HaShoah program was a “significant and important expression of the special relationship that exists between the countries, the historic responsibility undertaken by Germany for the crimes of the Holocaust, and Germany’s commitment to the State of Israel’s security.”
President Herzog recited the names of family who perished in the Holocaust, and honored his uncle, the late Professor Hersch Lauterpacht of Lviv, who was the lone surviving member of his family and served as a prosecutor on behalf of Allied forces at the Nuremberg trials.
Bennett also laid a memorial wreath at the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Yad Vashem.