'Anti-Semitism and hatred are still among us'

President Rivlin welcomes Action Reconciliation Service for Peace to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Action Reconciliation Service for Peace at President's Residence
Action Reconciliation Service for Peace at President's Residence
Haim Zach, GPO

President Reuven Rivlin today, Sunday, hosted Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste (Action Reconciliation Service for Peace) at Beit HaNasi. ASF was established in Germany after the Second World War and its volunteers work in countries that suffered under German occupation and with Holocaust survivors in Israel. The event brought together Holocaust survivors and ASF volunteers as well as German Ambassador to Israel Dr Susanne Wasum-Rainer, Chair of Israeli Friends of ASF Ayala Lavie, CEO of ASF in Israel Guy Band and co-chairs of the Knesset Lobby for Holocaust Survivors Elazar Stern MK and Dov Hanin MK.

Among the survivors were Tamar Landau and Yehuda Bacon:

  • Tamar was born in Germany in 1931. After Kristallnacht, her family was deported to Poland and when the war broke out, to the Czernowitz ghetto. At the end of the war, Tamar was liberated from Bergen-Belsen and sent by the British to a children’s homme near Hamburg where she met Simcha, her future husband. In 1946 they came to Israel with Aliyat HaNoar. From then and until today, the couple goes to schools in Germany and Israel to give testimony about their experiences during the war.
  • Yehuda was born in Ostrava (Czechoslovakia) in 1929. In 1941 his family was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto and two years later he and some of the children of the ghetto were sent to Auschwitz. He was sent on a death march to Mauthausen, where he was finally liberated at the end of the war. A year later he came to Israel and studied at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. His artistic work included documenting his experiences in the Holocaust. His drawings were a visual testimony in the Eichmann trial, where he was a witness. Yehuda is a member of the art committee of Yad Vashem which looks at the works of art held by the institution and decides how they should be preserved and displayed.

The president said, “There can never be forgiveness for the crimes of the Nazis against the Jewish people. There can never be forgiveness for the terror and suffering of Jewish children during the dark years of the Second World War. But there can be reconciliation between the German people and the Jewish people today, and there is no better example of reconciliation than what you are doing here, throughout Israel.”

“Reconciliation must be based on truth. As the Holocaust fades from living memory, we must all work together to keep the memory alive. This is especially true today, when there are political leaders in the world who wish to distort their people's role in the Holocaust , when extremists on the European right are trying to revive racist ideologies and when extremists on the European left are calling for the destruction of the State of Israel,” he continued.

Speaking about the recent desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Greece, he said, “unfortunately, we cannot only talk about the Holocaust as a historical event. Anti-Semitism and hatred are still amongst us. Just this week, the Holocaust memorial at the Jewish cemetery of Saloniki in Greece was violated yet again, this time by neo-Nazis. We must continue to work together in an uncompromising fight against the anti-Semitism that never went away.”