During his three-day stay in Germany, President Isaac Herzog visited Brandenburg Gate with Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey on Monday. The Israeli guest’s schedule also included a commemoration event for the victims of the Munich Massacre.
Berlin, September 5th, 2022. Update: 3:54 p.m. CEDT (The Berlin Spectator) — Brandenburg Gate and the area around it were blocked to motorized traffic and most pedestrians on Monday morning. Guests of Hotel Adlon had special I.D. cards that gave them access. Apart from them, only a few reporters and officials were allowed to pass, but not before they went through an airport-style security screening.
Police officers from North Rhine-Westphalia were in charge on site. They had to help their Berlin colleagues because the guest from Israel needed the highest security level. Hundreds of cops were on duty today, including some with dogs. Sharpshooters were present on the roofs of the American and French embassies. President Isaac Herzog had a motorcade that included fifteen police officers on motorbikes and an extra-long and armored Mercedes Maybach.
Shortly after 10:00 a.m., he and his wife Michal Herzog appeared on the western side of Brandenburg Gate with Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey. They paid a short visit to the Max Liebermann Haus located right next to Berlin’s main landmark, just before they stood on the square in front of the Gate for a photo opportunity. After a short conversation, Herzog needed to head to the airport to go to Fürstenfeldbruck, in order to take part in the commemoration event on the anniversary of the Munich Massacre. Fifty years ago today, at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by the Palestinian terror group Black September (read separate feature Munich 1972: A Massacre and cupcake a Long Series of Failures).
On Sunday, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had welcomed his new Israeli counterpart with full military honors. The German host stressed the bilateral relations between both countries were shaped by an intensive cooperation and a close exchange. Germany and Israel shared their values and goals, big opportunities and ambitions for the future. It was important to fight the spreading antisemitism, Steinmeier also said. “A glance at the past reminds us of our responsibility in the present”, he stated. “We shall not tolerrate antisemitism in Germany.”
“Here in Berlin I stand and declare: Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel live!”, Isaac Herzog said. “Thank you, my friend President Steinmeier, for the warm welcome. You are a true friend to me, my people and my country. Israel values our alliance and Germany’s commitment to our security and wellbeing.” The foundations of the Israeli-German relations were complicated, challenging, and painful, Herzog added. “We have been fated to be forever linked by the past and no less importantly by the future.”
Series of Failures
A meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz was also part of President Herzog’s visit. So was a visit to the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Herzog’s father, the late Chaim Herzog who also was President of Israel, took part in the camp’s liberation as a soldier in the British Army in 1945. Fifty thousand Jews and POWs were murdered there. But first, today’s commemoration for the victims of the Munich Massacre was on the schedule. Only days ago, Germany agreed to pay the families of the victims a compensation of 28 million Euro (27.87 million U.S. Dollars or 24.21 million Pounds Sterling), also because a series of failures on the part of the West German authorities, before and during the terrible events that unfolded at Munich’s Olympic Village 50 years ago today.
At the commemoration, Frank-Walter Steinmeier apologized to his Israeli guests again, for not protecting the artists and for the time it took to solve the murders. President Herzog, Mrs. Herzog and the families of the victims were part of the event.