Koved zayer ondenk – Lest We Forget in Yiddish

May 1, 2013 by  
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Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts Michael Danby visited Germany for ANZAC day and to attend a ceremony at which indigenous remains were returned to Aboriginal leaders.

Michael Danby delivered the following in Berlin on ANZAC Day:

Two weeks ago,  I assumed I would be attending ANZAC Day ceremonies in my electorate as I do every year. Then it was decided that I would visit Berlin as part of a delegation to receive Ancestral Remains of Indigenous Australians from the Charité Hospital Museum. That ceremony will take place tomorrow. So it is serendipity  that I am able to represent Australia here today.

Indigenous leaders join Michael Danby and wife Amanda at the Commonwealth cemetery following the ANZAC day ceremony

Indigenous leaders join Michael Danby (3rd from right) and wife Amanda at the Commonwealth cemetery following the ANZAC day ceremony

On this day, we remember the 8,500 Australians and 2,700 New Zealanders who gave their lives during the Gallipoli campaign, which began 98 years ago today. But we also remember all Australians and New Zealanders who have fallen in war since our two nations entered the field of combat, more than a century ago in South Africa. We remember the dead of the First and Second World Wars, of Korea, Malaya and Vietnam, and most recently of Afghanistan, where 39 young Australians have fallen.

Like most Australians I find ANZAC Day a very emotional day. For me, however, to find myself in Berlin on ANZAC Day is particularly poignant. Both my grandfathers served in the First World War. My maternal grandfather, John Peek, served in the 3rd Light Horse and was commissioned in the field. My paternal grandfather, Bruno Danziger, served in the German Army, and won the Iron Cross. Both served on the western front, both were officers, and both survived – otherwise I would not be here.

But my two grandfathers met very different fates. John returned to Australia and was honoured as we honour all our veterans. Bruno and his wife Margarethe were deported from this city, from just down the road here at Grunwald Station, to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. That was how Nazi Germany treated decorated war veterans who happened to be Jews. Their son, my father, escaped Germany and fled to Australia, which is why I am an Australian and not a German.

That was the old Germany, the Germany that died in the burning ruins of Berlin in 1945. Today we stand in the capital of the new Germany, a democratic, prosperous, united Germany, in which people of all faiths and none live peacefully together and enjoy the blessings of peace and democracy. Those blessings can be summed up in the first three words of the German national anthem: Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit – unity, justice and freedom.

Those who lie in this cemetery are among the millions who sacrificed their lives in two world wars so that all the peoples of Europe, including the German people, should enjoy those blessings. Many more lie in the Australian and New Zealand cemeteries on the Gallipoli peninsula, where they are honoured by our Turkish friends, and in France and Belgium, and in many other places. Today we honour them all, including Indigenous Australians, who have served in all Australia’s wars.
I also want to take this opportunity to honour the new Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, and the 53 German soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan. This is the first time that German and Australian soldiers have served together as allies, and I believe their joint sacrifices will be vindicated by history.

But today above all I remember the millions who have no grave, the millions who died in the camps and ghettoes of eastern Europe, the millions who were reduced to ashes with no-one to witness their martyrdom, and the millions who suffered and died after being expelled from their homes at the war’s end.

For both my grandfather veterans, let me end with the words than end all ANZAC Day ceremonies in Australia and New Zealand, and their equivalents in German and Yiddish:

Lest We Forget.

Nie wieder.

Koved zayer ondenk.


One Response to “Koved zayer ondenk – Lest We Forget in Yiddish”
  1. Veronika Jones says:

    A remarkable story.

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