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At Bergen-Belsen, Herzog invokes his father who helped liberate Nazi camp

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) shakes hands wirth Israel's President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp where thousands of prisoners from all over Europe were killed during World War II, in Bergen-Belsen near Nordhausen, central Germany, on September 6, 2022. (Ronny Hartmann/AFP)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) shakes hands wirth Israel's President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp where thousands of prisoners from all over Europe were killed during World War II, in Bergen-Belsen near Nordhausen, central Germany, on September 6, 2022. (Ronny Hartmann/AFP)

President Isaac Herzog wraps up a state visit to Germany with a tour of Bergen-Belsen and invokes his father who helped liberate the concentration camp in April 1945, as an officer of the British forces.

“When the camp was liberated, a military convoy rolled into the site headed by an officer, who stood on a wooden crate and shouted in Yiddish, in front of hundreds of people, hundreds of human skeletons: ‘Yidden! Yidden! Es leben noch Yidden!’ In English: ‘Jews! There are still living Jews!’ There are still Jews in the world! That Jewish officer was my father, Chaim Herzog, of blessed memory, later President of Israel,” Herzog recounts.

“Four decades later, my father returned here as the Sixth President of the independent, strong, and democratic Jewish State of Israel. My father chose to begin his visit here, at the same place where I conclude my visit.”

“Here he addressed the victims of the Holocaust and said: ‘In the name of the Jewish People, and in the name of the State of Israel, I repeat our oath never to forget you, and to be forever faithful to your bequest: the imperative of life.’”

“Thus said my father, and thus say I today as President of the State of Israel, the state of the Jewish People. Here, in this terrible place, we remember the imperative that is binding on us all: the imperative of life, the imperative of the Eternity of Israel, and of the duty to work for its sake in every generation,” Herzog says.

The president says the foremost task at the moment is to preserve the memory of those who died and to help the survivors.

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