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Bundestag

Speaker of the Knesset Mickey Levy addressed the German Bundestag in Hebrew on Thursday on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, ending his remarks in tears.

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Levy, who arrived in Germany on Monday with an Israeli delegation, was the first Israeli parliament head ever to address the German legislature, the culmination of four days of meetings and ceremonies.

Bundestag President Bärbel Bas and Holocaust survivor Dr. Inge Auerbacher also gave commemorative speeches during the ceremony.

“I stand before you today moved and filled with humility on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism. I am proud to represent the only Jewish and democratic state in the world—the State of Israel, in my capacity as Speaker of the Knesset, the vibrant heart of Israeli democracy,” Levy began.

The decisions that shaped the Holocaust were “made 80 years and seven days ago, not far from here, in the house of the Wannsee Conference. When I stood yesterday in front of this spacious mansion, I was stunned,” he said.

“I sensed an unbelievable gap between the pastoral nature of the flower beds and the shimmering lake in the background and the cruelty with which the machine for the destruction of European Jewry was created here.

“Eighty years and seven days are but a blink of an eye in historical terms, and perhaps this is not enough time for all the wounds to heal. Many still bear scars that have not healed, and scars for which no healing will ever be found,” he said.

“These bonds of memory link our peoples together, Israelis and Germans. And alongside the memory—revival in these 80 years and seven days we have succeeded, the two nations, in rising from a national historical trauma and rebuilding ourselves, with courage and determination. Two nations that have undergone an extraordinary journey on the way to reconciliation and forging the ties and strong friendship between us. Germany and Israel have built a bridge,” he said.

“Eighty years and seven days ago, an attempt was made to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth. Since then, we have been privileged to see the revival of our people and the rebuilding of our land, our historical homeland — the State of Israel.

“Today we are asking: Remember, always remember! And build a promising future together,” he declared before taking a sip of water, visibly making an effort to assert self-control before reciting part of the Kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, in memory of those who perished.

Levy read the Kaddish from a Jewish prayer book originally used by a German Jewish Bar Mitzvah boy in 1938, on loan from Yad Vashem.

But the water didn’t help: while reciting Kaddish, Levy broke down in tears. The German parliamentarians all rose to honor the prayer.​

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