International Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

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On the occasion of the the International Holocaust Memorial Day, the Embassy held a commemoration evening on January 27, 2015 in cooperation with the Embassy of the State of Israel, the UN Representative in Asmara and the Foreign Ministry of the State of Eritrea. The Embassy welcomed 120 guests, among them members of the Eritrean government, diplomatic corps as well as the representative of the Jewish Community.

With a minute of silence, a photo exhibition from the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel and the performances of Prof Michael Köhler on the piano and vocalist Mr Barnabas Mebrahtu the evening was a memorable event of commemoration for the victims of Holocaust.

Moreover, as symbols of peace and friendship, the Embassy recently planted 30 olive trees in the periphery of Asmara together with the Isreali Embassy and support from the Ministry of Agriculture of the State of Eritrea.

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Remarks by Ambassador Andreas Zimmer on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015

 

Asmara, Jan. 27, 2015

 

Honourable Ministers,

 

Honourable officials of the Government of the State of Eritrea,

 

Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Dear Elie, dear Christine,

 

Iam happy that the representative of the nation whose troops liberated the concentration camp in Auschwitz in 1945 is today with us – welcome Igor.

 

This year’s International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust coincides with two milestone events: The 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the United Nations. The organization’s establishment seven decades ago in 1945 reflects how deep it was shaped by the experience of the Holocaust. Both the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrine the principles of human rights for all peoples around the world.

For us Germans there is this year another important anniversary: 50 years of diplomatic relations with the State of Israel.

 

Today we remember the unspeakable suffering and death of six million European Jews, of more than 500.000 Sinti and Roma, also of disabled and sick persons, as well as of people, who had been persecuted because of political, religious and other reasons, and the death of others, who were tortured and murdered by the Nazi-Government.

 

It was planned, organized and executed by Germans and Germany bears the moral responsibility, the responsibility before history for this crime against humanity.

This responsibility for its past is an important part of this legacy. Just as my children ask me how this could have happened, so do the children of the perpetrators and bystanders. It is two sides of the same coin – as we struggle to understand the evil of men and women.

 

We should not be deceived that this is all in the past. Today we see the growth of the Far Right, anti-semitism, islamophobia and the continued persecution of the Roma across Europe in a climate of economic recession and high unemployment. Just last week the General Assembly of the United Nations has come together for an extraordinary meeting on the fight against anti-Semitism for the first time in its history.

 

Let me be clear: anti-Semitism poses a threat not only to Jewish communities, but to society as a whole. This was shown dramatically by the shocking terrorist attack in Paris on January 9, when four people were killed in a kosher supermarket simply because they were Jewish.

 

Because of its historical responsibility for the Holocaust, Germany fights and will always fight anti-Semitism in whatever form it is expressed. There is no justification for anti-Semitism, either in Germany or any other place in the world.

 

Over the last decades, the remembrance of the Holocaust has brought Germany and Jews (Israel) closer together (to  each other). Let me quote the Nobel Peace Laureate from 1986, Elie Wiesel: “Memories must bring people together rather than set them apart. Memories are not to sow anger in our hearts, but on the contrary, a sense of solidarity.”

 

What great words in a place of such unspeakable terror (concentration camp Buchenwald)!

 

This is the message here and now: Germany and Israel have come a very long way.  We celebrate this year the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany and the representatives of both countries organize and celebrate the Holocaust Remembrance Day in Asmara and at other places together- thank you Elie for the trust. At the end politics is done by people and political relations rely on trust.

 

Maybe one example which illustrates how close both  nations are today and which quality the relations between Israel and Germany have: a group of young Israelis posted a photo of a chocolate pudding with the very low price from a German discounter on Facebook  in protest of the high prices in Israel and were calling for emigration to Germany. This photo and the recommendation initiated a shit storm in Israel, because the imagination that Germany could be home for Jews is for many people in Israel  still hard to accept.

 

The second message from Asmara is: genocides are everywhere as Foreign Minister Osman Saleh said: think of Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia or Iraq and elsewhere. Therefore I thank the Eritrean government and the United Nations in Asmara that they made this event possible and that this sign from Asmara is sent to the world: Eritrea helps to prevent any genocide wherever it will happen.  

 

With this meassage in mind I would like to thank you for your attention.

 

International Holocaust Memorial Day 2015