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20
May
2011

The Holocaust, Shoah: reconciliation! Part 2 of 2

The 1930s and 1940s was a horrifying and shameful time in the world's history. The period in which millions of people including six million Jews were murdered in an unprecedented systematically executed genocide, the Holocaust. Or as many Jewish people prefer to call it, the Shoah.

Is reconciliation on its way?

Why do Jewish people prefer to use the word Shoah? One of the reasons has to do with the meaning of the words. Shoah means calamity, destruction, catastrophe, disaster. While Holocaust is a word derived from the Greek word holókauston that means an animal sacrifice offered to a god, the whole (holos) animal is burned.

Which ever word one uses, it does come down to referring to the crimes against humanity committed during WW II and the years in the thirties up to the war. Since the end of WW II leaders of both Germany and the State of Israel have been taking cautious steps to reconcile the two nations and their peoples.

German Chancellor

Since 1952 contrary to the leaders of other European countries, the leaders of Germany have been making amendments to the Jewish people. Two presidents of Germany have addressed the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in the past. Johannes Rau in 2000, and Horst Köhler in 2005.

More recently in 2008, the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel - even thought only heads of state, not heads of government are allowed to address the Knesset, a vote by the Committee of Israeli Law gave her permission to speak. -  addressed the Knesset expressing in Deutsch Germany's support for the State of Israel. While German exchange students and holocaust survivors were listening seated in the visitors galley of the Knesset's plenum hall.

She spoke of the Holocaust  by saying,
"The Holocaust fills us with shame  ... I bow my head before the survivors and I bow my head before you in tribute to the fact that you were able to survive" [source: CNN-World]

And about Germany's friendship with Israel, she said,
"Germany will never forsake Israel but will remain a true friend and partner" [source: knesset.gov.il]

She stated her words were not empty words. She vowed to battle any flare-ups of anti-Semitsm racism and xenophobia as she said that it must never take root again in Germany of Europe. Even though the Knesset was positive regarding her speech,  she received a stand up ovation from the majority of the Knesset, still just like in the past with the German presidents some members of the Knesset walked out. 

One of them, Mr. Eldad, a member of the conservative NRP-National Union Party said, 
I can't hear German in the Knesset plenum. It's the language my grandfather and grandmother were killed in ..." [source: Spiegel on line]

Israeli President

The 27th January 2010, Holocaust Memorial Day, Shimon Peres was the first Israeli president to addressed the Bundestag, the German parliament in Berlin. He spoke Hebrew expressing words of hope and peace, but also warned never to forget the Holocaust and to continue to bring war criminals to justice.

"My request is of you: please do everything to bring them to justice. This is not revenge in our eyes. This is an educational lesson."
[source: Deutshe Welle]

He also addressed the youth, for whom he was concerned by saying,
"Young people cannot set other goals then peace, reconciliation and love. ... The youth must learn to respect all cultures."
[source: Deutshe Welle]

The president of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert stressed the relationship between Germany and Israel is unique. And he said,
"Some things are negotiable, but Israel's right to exist is not." [source: Deutshe Welle]

Recent course of history

Still, even though the efforts of all these leaders won't erase the past nor heal all wounds, they seem to be honest in their efforts. Is there any sign visible of these two nations being on the right track?

Germany
In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down, and October 1990 West and East Germany became unified to one country again. With Berlin as their undivided capital city. This put an end to the Two-State solution devised for Germany after WW II. Today at the time of deep economic crisis in Europe including the UK, Germany's economy is growing the fastest and is the strongest of whole Europe. Germany fell apart after WW II and became the underdog of Europe, but got reunited and strong again.

State of Israel
In 1948 the State of Israel was declared by David Ben-Gurion and other Jewish leaders, while the British were leaving Palestine, and was recognized immediately by the Soviet Union after which the United States followed and the rest of the world. In 1949 Israel was accepted as a member of the United Nations by majority of vote. In 1967 the Israelites, fighting a defensive war gain back Jerusalem as their undivided capital city. Israel signed a Peace Treaty with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994. To this day despite all strifes, wars and problems, the State of Israel with Jerusalem as its undivided capital city remains. Recently Prime Minister Benjamin Nethayahu said: "Israeli people has an iron will to defend their country"

A reconciliation process is difficult and painful, but not an impossible process. There where leaders give good examples, individuals may follow. For the effort of reconciliation and remembrance may pave the way for a better future by preventing people to commit the same mistakes as in the past. The Shoah, never again!

May the Almighty God bless these leaders.

God bless you,


Related Articles
The Holocaust,Shoah: asking forgiveness! Part 1 of 2
The Holocaust, Shoah: was and is more than personal grief!
In the news: Dutch royal family, still no apologies to Dutch Jews!
And yet, Hitler failed!

 

Author: © Mrs A. vd Laan-LeitoPosted in: Opinion