Remember the Murder of Six Million Jews at German Command and at German Hands

Speech by the Foreign Minister of Germany, Mr. Joschka Fischer for the "Remembering the Past, Shaping the Future" session organized by the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem (March 16, 2005)

I have been to Yad Vashem many times even before becoming Foreign Minister. Whenever my trips to Israel allow, I come to this place.

It is a place of remembrance of the victims of a barbaric crime - the Shoah. A place of remembrance of the names of the murdered. A place of memorial to true heroes, to those who saved Jewish lives and thus also to those who preserved humanity. And it is a place of deep shame for any German, because the name of my country, Germany, is and will forever be inseparably linked to the Shoah, the ultimate crime against humanity.


I am very grateful for your initiation and it is a great honor for me to speak to you today, at this memorial and before these names.

Just as the Auschwitz extermination camp has become a symbol of the Shoah, of the murder of six million Jews at German command and at German hands, the name Yad Vashem has come to stand for the remembrance of this crime against humanity.

The Shoah stands for evil pure and simple. People were murdered because they were born Jews. Infants, mothers, children, parents and grandparents - none were spared. An entire people. And a wonderful culture. And we must not forget that it was anti-Semitism that sparked off and remained the driving force behind this genocide.

All those murdered, the men, women and children, and their individual stories are the focal point of the New Museum at Yad Vashem. I am deeply moved by the testimonies and artifacts that bear witness to the fates of the victims. The darkest depths of my country's history are illuminated in a horribly tangible way, and the immeasurable suffering inflicted on German and European Jewry by the Nazis is brought home to us and burned into our memories once and for all.

The Hungarian Nobel Laureate for Literature, lmre Kertesz, once said: "The real problem with Auschwitz is that it happened, and this cannot be altered - not with the best, or worst will in the world". The Shoah, the ultimate crime against humanity will forever remain an indelible part of German history. We cannot and must not evade our historic and moral responsibility for Auschwitz.

Our relationship with Israel is therefore an issue that touches the very heart of the identity of the new, democratic Germany. That is why we are fully committed to the State of Israel's right to exist and to the security of the State and its citizens.

The new ways that Yad Vashem constantly finds to pass on the knowledge of the Shoah to the post-war generations serve as a model to memorials and museums around the world. I am thus grateful that Yad Vashem has agreed to make the database of the names collected in the Hall of Names available to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the centre of Berlin, which will be inaugurated on 10 May.

The fact that the Shoah was possible must serve as a constant warning and impose a lasting obligation on us all across the globe. We must banish all forms of anti­Semitism, as well as xenophobia, intolerance and racism, and fight them with determination. This is but a sign of respect to the legacy and memory of those killed by the National Socialist regime of terror, whose fate is commemorated here at Yad Vashem.


Other speeches at Yad Vashem upon opening their new museum 16.3.2005

Last updated April 15th, 2005


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