Peres remembers Holocaust in German Parliament speech

By Jessica Elgot, January 27, 2010
Shimon Peres speaking in Berlin

Shimon Peres speaking in Berlin

Israeli president Shimon Peres has delivered a historic speech to the German Parliament for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Mr Peres visited Berlin to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

His visit has been tightly protected, with 3,000 German police officers on duty and road blocks in the centre of the German capital.

In a speech delivered to the German parliament, including President Horst Koehler and Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Peres made emotional reference to the murder of his grandfather and uncles by the Nazis after they were locked in a burning building.

He said: “This day not only represents a memorial day for the victims, not only the pangs of conscience of humankind in the face of the incomprehensible atrocity that took place, but also of the tragedy that derived from the procrastination in taking action.

“This constitutes the lesson learnt from the world's inattention in the face of the rising flames, and the killing machine that operated day after day, year after year, with no opposition.”

He also recited Kaddish and Ha Tikva.

Before his speech, Mr Peres visited Grunewald station, a memorial to the Jews deported from Berlin to the concentration camps of Theresienstadt, Riga, and Lodz. Mr Peres lit six candles at the memorial along with five Holocaust survivors.

Read the speech in full here.

Last updated: 4:40pm, January 28 2010