Bärbel Bas arrives at Knesset with Mickey Levy
Bärbel Bas arrives at Knesset with Mickey Levy צילום: נועם מושקוביץ, דוברות הכנסת

President of the Bundestag (the German national parliament) Bärbel Bas was received Wednesday in the Knesset by Speaker of the Knesset MK Mickey Levy at an official welcome ceremony held in the Knesset Courtyard.

The president reviewed the Knesset Honor Guard and signed the Knesset's guestbook following the ceremony.

In the guestbook, President Bas wrote: "Israel and Germany are true friends and I am grateful for that. I view your invitation to attend Holocaust Remembrance Day events as an honor and a vote of confidence and trust. I humbly bow my head as I reflect upon the inconceivable suffering of the victims of the crimes against humanity committed by the Germans. The lessons of the Holocaust require us to never tolerate the emergence and spread of antisemitism. Germany's responsibility has not ended. We stand with Israel."

Prior to arriving at the Knesset, President Bas and Speaker Levy participated in a special tour of Yad Vashem. Following the tour, the Speaker said: "I thank President of the Bundestag, Bärbel Bass, a true friend of Israel, for accepting my invitation to come to Israel and Jerusalem during this special time. Your participation in the ceremonies commemorating Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day in the Knesset is a significant expression of the special connection between our countries, the historical responsibility that Germany has taken for the crimes of the Holocaust, and Germany's commitment to the security of the State of Israel.”

As mentioned earlier, following the arrival of the President of the Bundestag and after the official welcome ceremony in the Knesset Courtyard, the two are scheduled to meet in the Knesset Speaker's Office. President Bas: "Our shared memory on Holocaust Remembrance Day emphasizes the strength of the German-Israeli friendship and the high levels of trust developed between our countries over the years. This friendship is a wonder and a blessing. I thank the Speaker of the Knesset for his invitation. It is a powerful gesture and demonstration of trust."

Later in the day, the Speaker of the Knesset and President Bas are expected to hold a unique and meaningful discussion with the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. The former chief rabbi will be sharing his story of survival and heroism with the two leaders, as well as to dozens of young people on Zoom. At the end of the event, the three will arrive together at Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto Square Plaza for the opening ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes' Remembrance Day.

The climax of the visit to the Knesset is expected to take place tomorrow (Thursday, 28 April), when the President of the Bundestag, the Honorable Bärbel Bas will participate in the national Unto Every Person There is a Name ceremony, in which the names of Holocaust victims are read aloud at the Knesset on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The theme of this year’s event is Transports to Extinction: The Deportation of the Jews during the Holocaust. During the ceremony, which will be held in Chagall Hall for the 33rd time, six memorial candles will be lit by Holocaust survivors and Members of Knesset in memory of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. As it is every year, the ceremony will be attended by the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Knesset, the President of the Supreme Court, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate.

Before the ceremony, the President of the Bundestag is expected to attend a special memorial service to be held at the entrance to the Knesset Building, where she will light a personal memorial candle in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The President of the Bundestag asked to light a memorial candle bearing the name and story of Irma Natan, who lived in Bundestag President Bas's hometown of Duisburg. Nathan was the head of the welfare committee of the Jewish community in Duisburg, until she was deported with her husband in April 1942—exactly 80 years ago—to the Izbica transit camp, where they were murdered.

The Speaker of the Knesset, MK Mickey Levy, chose to light a memorial candle with the name of Joseph (Peppo) Varouh, one of the leaders of the uprising in Auschwitz. Joseph Varouh was a Jewish officer in the Greek army who perished in Auschwitz in 1944.