Rivlin with German President Joachim Gauck
Rivlin with German President Joachim Gauck Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin received an official state welcome on Monday at Berlin's Bellevue Palace, the residence of German President Joachim Gauck. 

After meeting with Gauck, Rivlin, on an official trip marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, stressed the uniqueness of that relationship as he addressed the media. 

“The friendship between us is built on shared values of democracy, freedom of speech, and equal rights, as well as an understanding that the lessons of the past must drive us toward a better future," the President said. 

Later on Monday, President Rivlin attended a memorial ceremony for the Jews of Berlin murdered in the Holocaust.  

Rivlin laid a wreath and lit a memorial candle during the ceremony held at Platform 17 - the site from where Berlin's Jews were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. 

“Fifty-five thousand Jews, were sent from Platform 17 to their deaths from October 1941, till the Spring of 1945. This platform was the platform of death," Rivlin said, describing how anti-Semitism "grew like a cancer" under the Third Reich. 

"Seventy years have passed since the last transport left Platform 17; yet once again, fascist and neo-Nazi movements are growing stronger and stronger on European soil. Apathy, indifference, or denial is not the answer.”

The President stressed that nations of the free world were obligated to combat anti-Semitism and racism across the globe. 

“’In a world flooded with barbaric terror and hatred, in a world, where tensions between cultures and ideologies, grow stronger, the battle against racism, anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, requires us to be alert, and decisive." 

"We must remember," Rivlin asserted, "democracy alone does not make us immune to nationalism and fascism. No nation is immune to anti-Semitism. No nation is immune to extremism or fundamentalism."

"Here, on Platform 17, we must commit to look hatred in the eye. Only by cooperation between different communities, and between different countries, can we fight any violation of human dignity. This is our obligation. This is our duty.”

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