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  Bärbel Bas standing next to the eternal flame at the Yad Vashem Holocause Memorial museum
Bärbel Bas rekindled the eternal flame at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in JerusalemImage: Menahem Kahana/AFP

Bundestag president visits Israel for Holocaust remembrance

April 27, 2022

During her Israel visit, Bundestag President Bärbel Bas has voiced her "deep grief and shame" at Germany's role in the Holocaust. And she warned that rising antisemitism in her country needed to be urgently combated.


Germany's parliamentary speaker, Bärbel Bas, on Wednesday called on her country to do all it could to counter antisemitism in society as she visited a Holocaust commemoration site in Israel ahead of official remembrance events.

"Regrettably, we are experiencing a type of antisemitism in our country, too, where one can and must only say: 'Take action now!'" she said at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem.

What else did Bas say?

Bas said that she had heard that many young Jews in Germany were scared of another Holocaust.

"These are alarm signals that have to put us very much on our guard and where we have to work against it with all the means we have as a state under the rule of law," she said.

Bas wrote in the guest book that: "We must not forget. Germans wiped out 6 million lives. I think of the dead in deep grief and shame."

She thanked Yad Vashem for giving those who were murdered "a face and a name."

She said the question remained of how such a thing could happen and why so few people had helped prevent it.

"For me, this visit is a very emotional day because I am very aware that I have been invited to the national commemoration as a German and, of course, also as the person representing the German Bundestag," she told reporters. 

"That is something special that I feel very strongly personally. And I am very grateful that I have received the invitation to take part in the commemorations."

Prime minister asks for stop to comparisons

Speaking at the same event, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the world to stop likening other historic events to the Holocaust, after leaders on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine conflict compared the war to World War II genocide.

"As the years go by, there is more and more discourse in the world that compares other difficult events to the Holocaust. But no," he said. "No event in history, cruel as it may have been, is comparable to the extermination of Europe's Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators."

In a meeting with Bas, Bennett said: "In recent years, very significant steps have been taken in Germany for Holocaust remembrance and to deepen relations between the two countries." He also paid tribute to "the new government and my friend, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is very committed to Holocaust remembrance."

What will her visit include?

Bas, a member of Germany's ruling center-left Social Democratic Party, who is making her first official trip to Israel, was to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

She was also to attend a ceremony in the Knesset on Thursday, during which some names of those killed during the Holocaust will be read out as part of events for Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

According to Israeli figures, there are 161,400 Holocaust survivors still living in the country.

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the systematic murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators across German-occupied Europe between 1941 and 1945. Around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population died in pogroms, mass shootings or German extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

DW's Tania Kraemer contributed reporting from Israel.

tj, aw/msh (dpa, KNA)

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