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Bundestag president in Israel to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day

Barbel Bas visits Knesset and Yad Vashem, says Germany’s responsibilities to lessons of Holocaust continue to this day; will be special guest at state ceremony

The president of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament), Barbel Bas, at the eternal flame at the Hall of Remembrance during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem, on April 27, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
The president of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament), Barbel Bas, at the eternal flame at the Hall of Remembrance during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem, on April 27, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

The head of Germany’s parliament arrived in Israel on Wednesday to participate in a series of events to mark the national Holocaust Remembrance day.

Bundestag President Barbel Bas was welcomed at an official ceremony in the Knesset, during which she said, “The lessons of the Holocaust oblige us to give no place to antisemitism. Germany’s responsibility hasn’t ended. We stand alongside Israel.”

“I bow my head humbly at the inconceivable suffering of the victims of the crimes against humanity committed by the Germans,” she added.

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy calls Bas’s participation in the Israeli parliament’s ceremonies for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Wednesday evening, “a significant and important expression of the special connection that exists between the countries, for the historical responsibility that Germany took for the war crimes, and Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security.”

Earlier Wednesday, Bas visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem alongside Levy.

Later in the day, the Bundestag speaker will meet with former Israel chief rabbi Meir Lau, who will share his story of surviving the Holocaust. They will be joined via Zoom by dozens of Israeli teens.

The president of the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament), Barbel Bas (C), delivers a speech standing next to Speaker of the Israeli Knesset Mickey Levy (R) and Chairman of Yad Vashem, World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Dani Dayan (L), during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem, on April 27, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Bas will then participate in official state ceremonies marking Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

Ahead of Thursday’s ceremony, Bas will light a memorial candle in front of the Knesset in memory of Irma Natan, a Jewish resident of Duisburg who was killed in the Holocaust. Bas is also from Duisburg, in western Germany.

Bas will be the first senior German official to attend Holocaust Remembrance Day events at the Israeli parliament.

In January, Levy became the first Knesset speaker to address the full German parliament, when he gave an emotional speech to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

During his address, Levy recited part of the Kaddish, a traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer, reading from a prayer book used by a teenager at his bar mitzvah on October 22, 1938, shortly before the Kristallnacht pogrom instigated by the Nazis against Germany’s Jews.

The annual Holocaust Remembrance Day is one of the most solemn days on Israel’s national calendar, with much of the country all but shutting down for two minutes for a siren at 10 a.m. to honor those who suffered under the Nazi killing machine.

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