There is nothing more moving than the birth of a child. It is the dawn of a new world, of new hopes and so much more. Is this not all the more true for the birth of a Jewish child in Germany between 1945 and 1948 – immediately after the end of National Socialist tyranny? Each of the more than 400 children born at that time in St Ottilien was also a symbol. A symbol that life prevails over suffering and death – something almost unimaginable given the crimes against humanity of the Shoah.
The concert given by Jewish musicians on 27 May 1945 was also a celebration of life. We can but wonder where they found the strength to perform this act of self-assertion. But it was this strength, this commitment to life in spite of everything which made places like St Ottilien into a nucleus of Jewish life in Germany. What a gift to us undeserving Germans!
And yet intolerance and antisemitism live on to this day as today’s concert also reminds us. However, this act of remembering must not be passive. It must be vibrant and compel us to act when Jews are attacked here in our country. Or when people try to make blatant antisemitism somehow acceptable by disguising it as supposedly harmless criticism of Israel.
We must uphold and strengthen what seemed almost impossible in 1945: flourishing Jewish life in Germany. And what courageous women and men never lost faith in. Just like the birth of each and every child, every note played in the Liberation Concert was symbolic of the dawn of a new world.
I would like to thank all those involved for the opportunity to sense this again today.