Germany made no effort to evade recognition of its grim past, and included Holocaust-related commemorations in Rivlin’s agenda.
As a young man Reuven Rivlin was opposed to diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. Today, as Israel’s 75-year-old president, Rivlin sees the benefit of this relationship through the sharing of common values and Germany’s support of Israel in international forums.
On his first visit to Germany as president of the State of Israel, Rivlin on Monday received a warm, red carpet welcome replete with military honor guard from German President Joachim Gauck.
Rivlin is in Germany to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. He is the fourth of Israel’s 10 presidents, and the second native Israeli president, to visit the country that was once led by a fiend who wanted to annihilate the Jewish people.
His immediate three predecessors in office, Ezer Weizman in January 1996, Moshe Katsav in May 2005, and Shimon Peres in January 2010, all visited Germany before him. All three, while cognizant that they were addressing a different Germany in their public speeches and in their private meetings with German dignitaries, did not allow themselves or their hosts to forget the Holocaust.
Peres, who lost close relatives in the Holocaust, addressed the German Bundestag on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Rivlin, only three days before leaving for Germany, participated in the VE Day commemoration marking the 70th anniversary of Germany’s defeat by the allied forces. In Israel, the occasion was also a tribute to Jewish soldiers in the Red Army as well as in all the other armies that fought against the Nazi forces.
To its credit, Germany made no effort to evade recognition of its grim past, and included Holocaust-related commemorations in Rivlin’s agenda.