Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, who is heading an official Knesset delegation to Germany on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Israel and the European country, delivered a speech on Tuesday during a ceremony held at Track 17 (”Gleis 17”) in Berlin`s Grunewald railway station, from which more than 50,000 of the city`s Jews were sent to ghettos and extermination camps – and from there to their death – during World War Two.
”At this spot, 74 years ago, in October 1941, the mad idea which received the elegant name ”The Final Solution” was put into action,” Edelstein said in his speech. ”The idea of the annihilation of the Jewish people took shape and Adolf Hitler`s despicable race theory went from the pages of his book ”Mein Kampf” directly to the train station`s platforms, to the ghettos and extermination camps, and became a monstrous reality. More than 50,000 Jews were sent from this platform to their bitter end, including 17,000 who were sent directly to the Auschwitz camp. Millions of my people, including 1.5 million children, whose pure blood saturated Europe`s soil during the past century, would find it hard to believe that one day the Speaker of the Israeli parliament and the son of Holocaust survivors would stand here listening to [Israel`s] national anthem – ”Hatikvah”.
Edelstein continued to say, ”Today, we are again call upon to refrain from turning a blind eye in light of the dangers of annihilation, racism, hatred and lust for power and rulership, because numerous evil forces are rearing their heads every day, and among us there are too many who prefer to turn a blind eye.”
”We must resist the indifference, the shrugging and the burying of heads in the sand,” the Knesset Speaker told those on hand. ”Countries that are aggressively seeking to develop nuclear weapons pose a threat to humanity, as does the cruel and borderless war declared by the extremist Islamic organizations. This is a cross-border battle for our future and sanity; a fight for the nature of the principles of human society and for its future.”
”In this struggle, as recent history has taught us, there is no room for hesitation. If we will not be determined enough, we may wake up one morning and find that someone has pulled the rug from under our feet,” Edelstein warned. ”If we do not wake up in time, right now, this morning may be closer than ever.”
Bundestag President Dr. Norbert Lammert said, ”It is symbolic, Mr. Speaker of the Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, that your first visit to Germany begins here at `Track 17`, from which Jews were sent to their deaths in extermination camps. The relations between our countries have always been affected by the terrible past – the Holocaust. The ceremony here at `Track 17` is a very moving moment for you, and also for us.”
Lammert quoted the words of David Ben-Gurion, who established Israel`s diplomatic relations with Germany: `Our duty is to make certain that there will never be another Holocaust.` ”These words still guide us today,” Lammert said.
During the ceremony, wreaths were laid at the foot of the platform, verses from Psalms were recited, and Berlin`s two chief rabbis said kaddish.