Germany, October 22, 2003
FM Silvan Shalom lays wreath at Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial
Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister of Brandenburg, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,
I stand before you today in this terrible place – a place that embodies the full horror of the Nazi regime, and its slaughter and extermination of the Jewish people.
Here, less than an hour’s journey from the capital city Berlin – a city that was then considered the flagship of European culture – a quarter of a million people were persecuted, tortured and humiliated, and tens of thousands were slaughtered, many of whom were Jews. Here stood the administration building of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
Here was the embodiment of the barbaric mind-set of the Holocaust’s architects and perpetrators who knew how to exploit to the full advances in technology and modern science in order to perpetrate their atrocities.
The mind is still unable to comprehend what happened in this and many other concentration camps. The events of the Nazi Holocaust have no parallel in the history of mankind. The Nazi regime sought to exterminate a peace-loving people. This was not an isolated plot but a vast criminal scheme with many participants perpetrated against an entire people.
This is my first visit on German soil as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the State of Israel – a first visit to a Germany that is levelheaded, democratic and free, and a country which has committed itself to the fight against anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
With some trepidation but buoyed by a sense of mission, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer paved the way for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and Germany – ties which were established in 1965. In the four decades since then, the new Germany has stood by its commitment to the well-being and security of the State of Israel. The special relations between Israel and Germany are based, amongst other things, upon the traumatic memories of both peoples following the atrocities of the Holocaust and the war that accompanied it.
All civilized people are bound by the historic lesson of the Holocaust – it is incumbent upon all of us to uproot any manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism, whenever they appear, in their old or new forms.
In a world in which the historic memory becomes ever shorter, we must recount the story of what happened here at every opportunity, and educate the younger generation, so that crimes of this magnitude do not recur.
As the Prophet Isaiah stated, "Even to them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off."
Less than sixty years after the Holocaust, we are today witnessing a revival of anti-Semitism on this continent, which not only directs its poisoned arrows at its traditional target – the Jews. The new anti-Semitism also attacks the State of Israel itself – the home of the Jewish people.
The traditional anti-Semitism that has its roots in Christian and Western culture has taken on a new form in the Arab world. The days when the descendants of Ishmael could claim that they were immune from accusations of Anti-Semitism since they were Semites themselves are gone. We are facing a new phenomenon that is gaining great momentum in the Arab and Muslim world, which includes not only denial of the Holocaust, but also daily incitement against the Jewish people, the State of Israel and its right to exist as the state of the Jews.
From this very place, from the blackened remains of the Nazi extermination machine – the place in which thousands were slaughtered and the site in which thousands more were sent to their deaths, I call for the universal condemnation of anti-Semitism, and for concerted action against anti-Semitism in every place. This moral and historic obligation applies to all humanity.
The State of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, which is celebrating 55 years of its independence was established so that another Holocaust could never recur. The State of Israel is the only guarantee of security for Jews, wherever they may be. Israel served as a refuge for Holocaust survivors and for the entire Jewish people, and it will remain a home and a shelter for every Jew and for the Jewish people, as a whole.
We live in our historic homeland by right, and we are also entitled to defend the land and our citizens. No one can deny us this right.
With a sense of the weight of history, I, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the State of Israel am proud to stand here today as the representative of the Jewish people and its State, Israel, and to declare – "Never again."
As the Prophet Ezekiel stated, "When I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you, Though you are in your blood, live; yes, I said to you, Though you are in your blood, live." (Ezekiel 16:6)