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Germany stands by Israel — despite the Holocaust, and because of the Holocaust

  • May 14, 2021

“This violence cannot be justified by anything. Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks within the framework of self-defense,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert denounced the actions of Hamas in light of the massive rocket fire on Israel. Seibert speaks for the German chancellor. It is a journalistic custom to say that Angela Merkel speaks through the words of her spokesman.

Germany is 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) away from Israel. But these days, distance is relative. The escalation in the conflict has shaken many in Germany. Now the conflict is spilling over onto German streets. Israeli flags are burning, insecurity and fear are growing among Israelis in Germany and German Jews.

Special relationship

The relationship between Germany and Israel is of a special kind. They will always be marked by the Shoah, Nazi Germany’s mass murder of six million Jews. And yet the relationship has developed impressively since 1965, the year full diplomatic relations were established between the two countries.

Ben Gurion (l) and the first German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer seemed almost like distant friends

David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), in particular, stands for early reconciliation. Early on, the legendary first prime minister of Israel argued for the view of the “other Germany.” Ben Gurion and the first German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) met only twice in his lifetime – in 1960 and 1966. And yet both statesmen seemed almost like distant friends.

The first official talks between the Federal Republic and Israel began as early as 1952, initially about a reparations agreement, then there were secret contacts for German arms deliveries to Israel. When this became known in the Middle East in 1964, the excitement was great. And yet it was the final impetus for the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1965, a step that not a few people in the young Jewish state found difficult. The arrival of the first German ambassador was still accompanied by riots.

This article will be expanded throughout the day. It has been translated from German.


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