Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Germany on Monday.
Lapid was joined by a delegation of Holocaust survivors who were greeted on the plaza of the Wannsee Villa, with the prime minister and chancellor speaking with the survivors at the location where the “Final Solution” was decided.
“An hour ago, I entered the office of the Chancellor and was greeted by an honor guard of German soldiers who saluted the Jewish state. I thought about the first time my father saw a German soldier,” Lapid said.
“He was almost 13. In March 1944, he was lying in the big bed in his parents’ house. His father was next to him, because my grandmother was in Budapest. At 5 o’clock in the morning, there was a knock on the door. A German soldier entered. He asked, ‘Where is Dr. Lampel?’, my grandfather. My grandfather got up. My great-grandmother, Hermina, who spoke German, approached the soldier, got down on her knees—she was already an old woman – grabbed his boots and pleaded, ‘Bitte, bitte.’ You have a mother too,’” Lapid continued.
“The soldier said nothing. My grandfather went and got dressed, took his bag, walked over to my father, lifted the blanket, and my father was crying. He said to him, ‘My son, I will either see you or I won’t.’ He never saw him again.
“Today, the German Chancellor, the German military and the people of Germany came here, to the Wannsee Villa, the place where the bureaucracy of evil was crafted, to honor you and ask for your forgiveness. We came here to tell them we won.
“My grandfather Bela died in a concentration camp, but my father survived and raised a family, and they established a country. That country is proud to be here today. I thank you, my friend, for coming here with us today. It takes a fair amount of moral courage to do so. Thank you for coming.”
Each Holocaust survivor also shared their story, as well as their account of Aliyah to Israel.