“The Germans persecuted, enslaved and murdered the Jews of Europe and the Jews of Warsaw with a cruelty and inhumanity for which we have no words. Today I stand before you and ask forgiveness for the crimes the Germans have committed here”: said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier today in Warsaw, speaking on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the ghetto uprising in the Polish capital, in a celebration together with the presidents of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and Israel, Izchak Herzog. Steinmeier is the first German head of state to attend the commemoration.
“For us Germans, responsibility knows no end”
Steinmeier began his speech in Yiddish, quoting the diary of a woman who was deported with her daughter to the Treblinka concentration camp and killed. The German president honored the ghetto rebels of April 1943, who showed “unimaginable courage in the darkest night”. Then he cited various Jewish authors, including “the great Primo Levi”. “For us Germans, responsibility in the face of our history knows no end. For us it remains a warning and a mandate in the present and in the future”, continued Steinmeier, who then praised the “miracle” of friendship between Germany, Poland and Israel after the Nazi crimes. “The horrific crimes committed by the Germans here fill me with deep shame. But at the same time it fills me with gratitude and humility to be able to attend this commemoration as the first ever German head of state,” said Steinmeier.