Rivlin visits Theriesenstadt

October 23, 2015 by J-Wire
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Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has visited the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, accompanied by President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman.


President Reuven Rivlin and

President Reuven Rivlin and President Milos Zeman   Photo: Mark Neyman

During the visit, the Presidents attended the official military memorial ceremony and laid wreath, before the national anthems of both Israel and the Czech Republic were played, and the ‘El Maleh Rachamim’ memorial prayer was recited. At the end of the ceremony the President said the Kaddish’ prayer in memory of the victims.

President Rivlin went on to the Maple Wood Memorial for the children of Terezin. A tree was planted in secret by the camp’s children during the Tu B’Shvat holiday in 1943, and a ceremony held by the children in the yard near their hut. Sadly a flood that hit the memorial site in 2002 which damaged the maple tree, and only cuttings taken from it remained, as well as the tree trunk which was placed as a memorial near the Jewish cemetery and crematorium. Helga Ošková-Weissová, aged 86, one of the children who planted the tree in 1943, was invited to take part in planting a new tree with the President. The President embraced her warmly and told her he was moved from by the occasion, and was very proud, as President, to plant the new tree with seedling cuttings from the original tree.

After President Rivlin planted the tree alongside Helga, he said, “There is nothing more symbolic than a tree that has survived and has continued to commemorate the life that went on and emerged from the dust. I am moved, but moreover tremendously proud to stand here beside you, as a Jew first and foremost, and as the President of the State of Israel, at the spot where the greatest human tragedy for the Jews took place. The growth that has emerged here is the growth of a nation, its victory against all odds, and also the promise that we will continue, and continue to grow, that we will continue to stand up to anyone who would seek to disrupt our ability to live in peace and security.”

At the end of the ceremony, the President said, “We are in the most pastoral environment in nature where horrendous crimes were committed. When we say ‘never again’, we know what we need to do today to never allow another Holocaust from taking place. It was from here in Theresienstadt that the worse propaganda of the Nazi beast emanated. From here came an attempt to create terrible lies, as if the Nazis were as beneficiaries to the Jewish people, as if they took care of all of humanity, as if they put their hearts into educating children and enable culture. It was from here in this place of horror that terrible lies fostered and we will not allow the world to give in to such a reality once again. We learned the lesson; we learnt it and continue learning it.”

The President went on to say, “Our biggest victory as a people lies in such visits as these, the third visit of President of Israel, a sovereign and democratic state, in this land. We are here once again and the Nazis are not.”

Helga Ošková-Weissová was born in 1929 and was sent to Theresienstadt in December 1941 with her family. She was then deported with her mother to Auschwitz in October 1944. Helga survived the Holocaust and established her home in the Czech Republic.


2 Responses to “Rivlin visits Theriesenstadt”
  1. harry rich says:

    Dear Marta,
    Please explain why we have not learned the lesson which the President so ably mentioned.

  2. Marta Mikey Frid says:

    No, we didn’t learnt the lesson!, nor will we ever learn it. Time to accept human nature, dear President: The Jews have always been the most convenient excuse to justify people’s desire to hate.

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