Bergen-BelsenItzik Rubin

For the first time Israeli Bergen-Belsen Survivors’ voice won’t be heard in the ceremony in Germany to mark Liberation Day.

On Monday, April 15, 1945, the 79th day of liberation of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany by the British Army is marked. April 15th was designated as the most important day for the Belsen survivors and their families, who regarded it as their second birthday.

Every year, representatives of the survivor’s organization of Bergen-Belsen in Israel attend the Jewish memorial at the site of the former camp. The Jewish memorial was erected in 1946. Near the memorial, a traditional Jewish ceremony is annually held and includes the prayers “Kaddish” and “El Male Rahamim (God is full of mercy)”. Then the tradition is that a Jew from the organization in Israel gives a speech and then the Israeli national anthem “Hatikva” is sung, as the survivors sing there with mixed emotions. Certainly, after the October 7th massacre, it was expected that a representative from Israel would speak.

This year, the board of the organization in Israel was totally surprised to discover by mere chance that the sacred date for them and their parents was shifted to sometime in May for no logical reason. Not only that, but in the whole ceremony there is no place for a voice from Israel, especially in this difficult year.

The board of the organization in Israel fears that this serious incident is a sign of things to come, and that the German authorities who manage the memorial site have apparently completely taken over it, leaving no room for any other consideration on the part of the Jewish organization in Israel.

It should be noted that Israel is home to the largest and most active community of Bergen-Belsen survivors in the world. As a first response, the management in Israel is considering severing ties with those responsible in Germany.