Heads of State and Government from all over the world attended the funeral of Shimon Peres in Jerusalem today. At the official ceremony, Germany was represented by Federal President Joachim Gauck, Federal Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier and Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles. It was of particular importance to Foreign Minister Steinmeier to pay his respects to the Israeli statesman.
The world bid farewell to Shimon Peres on Friday (30 September) with a ceremony in Jerusalem. The level of interest and sympathy in Germany was particularly high. The Nobel Peace Prizewinner did sterling work to promote German‑Israeli relations.
In January 1986 the Israeli Prime Minister visited a divided Berlin. Shimon Peres was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit the city where only a few decades earlier Nazi Germany had planned and organised the extermination of six million Jews. During his visit, Peres spoke, among other things, of the hope he associated with the city of Berlin. Today, thirty years later, the fruits of his engagement for friendship and reconciliation can be seen: thousands of young Israelis now live and work in Berlin.
“A bridge built across the ravine”
Speaking to the German Bundestag in 2010, Shimon Peres said: “The bridge built across the ravine was built by painful hands and shoulders that were carrying the burden of memory. It rests on strong moral foundations.” The unique friendship that has developed between Israel and Germany would be inconceivable without Shimon Peres.
“To us Germans, it is a veritable miracle that we have been able to come together after the darkest of times”, Foreign Minister Steinmeier wrote in an article for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published today. He continued, “We of today’s generation stand in awe of the great humanity and political vision of Shimon Peres and his contemporaries.”
Through his belief that hostilities and confrontation could be overcome, Shimon Peres achieved a considerable amount. Together with Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his achievements in connection with the Oslo peace process. He paved the way for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and never stopped believing in the goal of a peaceful, shared future.
Clear testimony to the spirit of reconciliation
Alongside President Gauck, Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Labour Minister Nahles, a large number of government leaders from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for the funeral ceremony of Shimon Peres on Mount Herzl. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was seated in the front row – a clear testimony to the spirit of reconciliation that still lives on today through the impact of Peres’ work.
For Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Peres’ tireless engagement to overcome conflicts is a particular inspiration. “Germany is grieving for a greatly esteemed loyal friend and partner as it pays tribute to his life’s work in profound gratitude and respect,” Steinmeier wrote in his article in the newspaper Haaretz.