Foreign Minister Steinmeier on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the commemorative concert, Violins of Hope

26.01.2015 - Press release

Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement in Berlin on the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism on 27 January 2015:

27 January is branded into our history as the day when Auschwitz death camp was liberated by Soviet troops. It is a day for reflection, a day to remember the victims of the crime against humanity that was the Holocaust.

Not only politicians, but also parents and schools, are responsible for ensuring that this remembrance is passed on to the younger generation. It is not possible to draw a line under history – and certainly not under the murders of millions of people.

The fatal attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris brought home to us with dreadful clarity that the need to stand up against anti-Semitism remains as pressing as ever. If Jews cannot feel safe in Europe, then none of us can feel safe.

The year 2015 is also an occasion to commemorate a new start. Fifty years ago, Germany and Israel agreed to establish diplomatic relations. This was a challenging decision at the time, and one that was highly contentious in Israel in particular. Taking this decision required courage and vision because for hundreds of thousands of Israelis, the memory of the Shoa meant the painful memory of their murdered relatives and of the untold suffering that they themselves had endured.

For both Israelis and Germans, the memory of the Shoa now forms an integral part of their national identity. I am glad and grateful when I see how dense and amicable the network of relationships between Israelis and Germans has become.

Background information:

Foreign Minister Steinmeier will open the commemorative concert, Violins of Hope, at the Berlin Philharmonie on 27 January. The concert will feature some 20 string instruments that belonged to Jewish musicians who emigrated or were murdered. These instruments were restored over a period of many years by the collector and restorer Amnon Weinstein, who has been invited to the concert from Tel Aviv, along with descendants of the former owners. Members of the Berliner Philharmoniker will play these historical instruments on 27 January. Amnon Weinstein has called the instruments “violins of hope”.

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