Israeli foreign minister visitsBerlin Holocaust monument

19th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 May 2005, BERLIN - Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom visited Berlin's newly-opened monument to the Holocaust on Thursday and laid a wreath at the weed-covered railway siding where Berlin Jews were taken away to the Nazi concentration camps.

19 May 2005

BERLIN - Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom visited Berlin's newly-opened monument to the Holocaust on Thursday and laid a wreath at the weed-covered railway siding where Berlin Jews were taken away to the Nazi concentration camps.

"We are not here as victims. We are here to preserve memories of the past and to fight for a better future," said Shalom at Gleis 17, part of a suburban Berlin station where 186 plaques mark every single transportation of Jews to their deaths.

In a warning against a revival of hate, Shalom added: "We have the duty to speak up at any place where anti-Semitism raises its head."

Earlier Shalom walked in the field of 2,711 concrete columns that was opened 10 May in the heart of Berlin as Germany's national memorial to the Holocaust, and toured the underground information centre that describes how Nazi Germany murdered 6 million Jews.

Shalom is the first Israeli cabinet minister to set foot in the Holocaust monument, which is built almost on top of the bunker in which Adolf Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945 as the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin.

All over Germany, former concentration camps and assembly points have been preserved as a warning to future generations. Gleis 17 was inaugurated as a memorial in 1998 and the weeds allowed to grow, symbolising a decision to never run another train from the siding.

Schoolchildren from Berlin's Heinz Galinski Jewish primary school attended the Gleis 17 ceremony and two girls read accounts of Jewish girls caught up in the Holocaust: one who was killed in 1944 in Birkenau and one who survived by hiding in a forest.

Shalom, who is also deputy prime minister, is paying a three-day visit to Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of German-Israeli diplomatic relations. He met with German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday.

On Thursday evening, Shalom was to open an exhibition devoted to 100 years of Israeli art. The art show, entitled 'The New Hebrews' runs till 5 September. Treasures on show include one of the 2,000- year-old Qumran scrolls found in 1956 near the Dead Sea.

DPA

Subject: German news

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