Christoph Peleikis, the Protocol Officer at the German Embassy in Tel Aviv, reports about his work in Israel on a special day – Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It is ten o’clock on Holocaust Remembrance Day. All over the country sirens are sounded. People stand in silence, cars and trains come to a halt, people get off. The whole of Israel stands still for two minutes. It goes without saying that in Israel, the past is more noticeable for a German diplomat than anywhere else in the world. But at a moment like this, it seems particularly close. As I stand in front of the German Embassy with my colleagues, I can feel a lump in my throat.
Although some memorial events are held in Israel on 27 January, the day which the United Nations designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005 and which has been a national day of remembrance in Germany since 1995, it is not the most important day for paying tribute to the victims of the Shoah in Israel. Since 1951, Holocaust Remembrance Day, or “Yom HaShoah”, has been commemorated on 27 Nisan of the Jewish calendar, several days before Israel’s Independence Day.
Moving discussions and high level visits
As the Protocol Officer at the German Embassy in Tel Aviv, I am involved in all aspects of our countries’ bilateral relations. I get to deal with questions regarding our close economic, academic or cultural ties, with the “yekkes”, immigrants of German descent, who have made an enormous contribution to bringing our two countries closer to each other, and with different exchange programmes that about 11,000 young people take part in every year.
But any other day of the year, too, memories of the Holocaust are and will remain constantly present. There is hardly a high level visit without a tour of Yad Vashem, the most important Holocaust memorial, or moving discussions with Holocaust survivors. Remembering the Holocaust creates the foundation on which our close relations are built.
This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day falls on 8 April. On that day I will again stand in front of the German Embassy with my colleagues to pay tribute to the victims of the Shoah – and feel a lump in my throat.