April 21, 2016

Germany and Israel: from Holocaust to National Reconciliation and Special Partnership Relations

Ivan Sichen, military and political expert

As socio-economic problems in the Russian Federation due to the EU's political and economic sanctions, the US and some other countries get worse, Putin's regime activates the anti-Western component of its information- propaganda policy to consolidate the country's population on the basis of the idea of ​​“historic confrontation between Russia and the West”.

As part of this policy, a special place is given to the theme of the Second World War, which increasingly treats today's Russia as a “clash of Western and Russian worlds.” At this, the Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union is quite frankly compared with the actions of the present Federal Republic of Germany, as the main driving force of the European policy of sanctions against Russia.

On the basis of this approach, in the Russian society are being formed anti-Western, xenophobic and nationalist sentiments, as well as hatred, anger and disgust to the whole Western world, especially to Germany and the German people.

V. Putin's regime deliberately and purposefully opposes this policy of the Kremlin to the ideas of post-war reconciliation, which at the time formed the basis of the European and transatlantic integration, as well as the cooperation between Germany and its former victims and enemies.

The most striking example of a successful implementation of ideas of post-war reconciliation, was resumption of the relationship between the Jewish and German people after the foundation of Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany, despite the Hitler Reich's policy of Holocaust which became one of the greatest tragedies of the Second World War. In general, Hitler's Nazis killed about 6 million Jews by shooting directly in the areas where they lived or by tortures in concentration camps.

It would seem that the Jewish nation will always hate Germany and the German. However, the actual course of events was quite different. Yes, the Jews really cannot forgive the organizers and performers of Holocaust, and to this day, they seek and persecute them all over the world. However, after a period of tension between the two nations and countries, they — Israel and Germany — did manage to achieve a historic reconciliation, to find solutions to existing problems and to establish constructive, friendly and mutually beneficial relations.

Канцлер ФРГ К. АденауэрThis process began with First Federal Chancellor of the FRG Konrad Adenauer's statement of September 1949 on his Government's willingness to enter into negotiations with Israel with a view to resolving the major problems in the German-Israeli relations. First of all it concerned the FRG's recognition of Germany's responsibility for the genocide of the Jewish people, as well as repatriation payments to Jewish immigrants in Israel, who had previously resided on German territory. That step of the Federal Republic of Germany showed that German policy was changing radically, as well as its willingness to assume responsibility for the revival of the Jewish people — the victims of the Nazi genocide.

But despite this, first Israel's government refused to negotiate with the Federal Republic of Germany, which was due to the negative attitude of the majority of the Israeli public to Germany, which was associated in Israel with the former Hitler's Reich and Holocaust. The World Jewish Congress (quite an influential international organization that brings together representatives of the Jewish diaspora in many countries around the world) was also against the negotiations with the FRG.

However, subsequently, out of purely pragmatic interests, the Israeli Cabinet, headed by David Ben-Gurion agreed to dialogue with the Federal Republic of Germany, and the negotiations first were semi-official. Thus, in 1951 K. Adenauer had several meetings with representatives of Israel (in Paris and in London), when was confirmed the FRG's readiness to compensate for the material damage caused to the Jewish people by the Nazis. This was to serve as the future basis for official negotiations between Germany and Israel.

After an extremely tense discussion of the issue in the Knesset (Parliament) of Israel, which was accompanied by mass protests of opponents of the resumption of dialogue with the Federal Republic of Germany, the decision was taken to start negotiations with Germany. At the same time, Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion — the main supporter of such a decision — explained the feasibility of such a step by the opportunity to help the immigrants, and to provide an enabling environment for the development of the Israeli economy.

Formal negotiations between Germany and Israel began March 20, 1952 on the outskirts of The Hague and lasted six months. They ended in signing (in Lisbon) of the so-called Reparations Agreement. According to this document, Germany assumed the obligation to pay the State of Israel 3 billion Marks in the form of commodities. At the same time, Israel got the right to open its Sales Office in Cologne to regulate commodity purchases in Germany.

All this became prerequisites in the establishment and development of trade and economic, and in the future — of political and military-technical cooperation between Germany and Israel. Cooperation got fundamentally new forms and particular relevance to Israel in the autumn of 1956, when the next stage of the Arab-Israeli conflict began.

From the very first days of the war in the Suez Canal area, Germany's leadership advocated for the cessation of hostilities and a peaceful solution to the armed conflict. At the same time, Germany supported Israel's actions, declaring them quite legitimate. Germany also provided uninterrupted financial and economic assistance to Israel within the framework of the Agreement on Reparations, which was crucial to the Israeli side in the country's economy surge during wartime.

Moreover, taking into consideration its moral obligations towards the Jewish people, Germany began active cooperation with Israel also in the military sphere. In particular, 50 officers of the Israeli Defence Forces had been trained at military schools in Germany. In turn, a group of German military instructors and experts was sent to the Israeli Army.

During the same period between the Defence Ministries of the two countries was signed an agreement to supply the Israeli side with a number of types of German weapons (in particular, artillery ammunition and military boats) worth 60 million marks. Besides, the Bundeswehr Command expressed willingness to continue training specialists for the Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli military industry.

Д. Бен-Гурион (слева) и К. Аденауэр, Нью-Йорк, 1960Such actions of the German side helped further deepen the trust between Germany and Israel, as well as move their relationship to a qualitatively new level. Since March 14, 1960 in the New York hotel “Waldorf Astoria” took place a historic meeting between the German Chancellor K. Adenauer and Israeli Prime Minister D. Ben-Gurion, which in fact marked the beginning of the German-Israeli dialogue on the highest level.

The main outcome of this dialogue was the establishment in May 1965, of full diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, including opening of embassies in both countries. Even despite the fact that some of the Israelis negatively perceived the event, it was still crucial for both sides. In fact, from that time on, cooperation between the two countries has got a clear formal basis, both at the bilateral level and in general on the world stage.

In particular, in the military-political sphere, Germany took a clear position in support of Israel in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. In this regard, to ensure Israel's security was definitely the “main component” of Germany's foreign policy. In particular, during each of the rounds of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Germany always took the side of Israel and defended Israeli interests in the UN and other international structures. Besides, Germany has consistently demanded from Arab and other Islamic countries to recognize the State of Israel. This is what Germany demands from Iran today as one of the main preconditions for the normalization of German-Iranian relations since the fundamental solution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

At the same time, the economic cooperation between Germany and Israel has also got intensified and developed. Thus, today, Germany is the third trade partner of Israel after the USA and China, and the volume of the mutual trade turnover between the two countries is more than 5 billion Euros a year. At this, the main German exports to Israel is machinery, chemical products, vehicles and optical instruments. In turn, the Israeli side delivers to Germany all sorts of technical equipment including measuring instruments and medical equipment.

Today in Israel, are presented leading German companies with a worldwide reputation, including SAP, Siemens, Telekom, Volkswagen, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Bayer, BASF, RWE and Bosch. In recent years, the most ambitious project was the creation of joint ventures for the extraction of magnesium salts from the Sea of ​​Marmara (used as a raw material for production of metal magnesium), construction of power plants in the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Hadera, and development of mineral deposits in Israel's territory.

Besides, a number of joint scientific and technological projects have been implemented recently in the spheres of medicine, electronics, telecommunications, software, use of solar energy, desalination, chemical engineering, astrophysics, and so on.

Even more emblematic sphere of ​​cooperation between Germany and Israel is military and military-technical cooperation between the parties. Thus, they systematically conduct joint exercises of the Armed Forces and Intelligence Services of the two countries, both on a combined arms, and on anti-terrorism issues. There continues training of Israeli soldiers in Military Academies of Germany together with German students.

At the same time, Germany provides Israel with certain types of weapons and military equipment, as well as with spare parts and accessories to it. In particular, the most ambitious project was the equipping of four Israeli Navy Dolphin class submarines made in Germany. Besides, Israel receives from the Germany units, transmissions, guns and armor for the Merkava tanks, infrared modules for weapon control systems of F-16 aircrafts, avionics for helicopters AH-64 Apache, engines for combat ships and boats, means of personal protection of servicemen, and other equipment.

In March 2008, the Defence Ministries of Germany and Israel signed a Memorandum on deepening technological cooperation between the parties in the sphere of the joint development of missile defence systems of German and Israel Armed Forces. That is, the deepening of military and military-technical cooperation between Germany and Israel is a clear indication that Germany is implementing its commitments to ensure the security of Israel as part of Berlin's special attitude to the victims of Hitler's Nazism.

Today, as a result of Germany's such policy, the attitude of the Jewish nation to Germany has completely changed. This is evidenced by the Jews' returning to Germany, where they again feel completely safe. In particular, during the last twenty years, the Jewish community in Germany has grown more than twice. Besides, they have built cultural ties between the two countries in terms of student exchange, mutual opening of cultural centers and so on. In general, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, about 200 thousand Israeli students have been educated in Germany.

The development of German-Israeli relations received a new impetus after German Chancellor A. Merkel's visit to Israel in March 2008. During her meetings with the leadership of the Israeli government, were determined prospects of further strengthening the ties between the two countries in the spheres of foreign policy, defence, economy, fight against terrorism, research projects, youth exchange and environmental protection. It was decided to hold the annual intergovernmental consultations between the two countries. At the same time, A. Merkel reiterated Germany's commitment relating the guarantees of Israel's security.

The special nature of Germany-Israel relations was recognized also during the meeting of the Presidents of the two countries in May 2015 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. Commenting on the events of the Second World War, both sides expressed a tough condemnation of racism and anti-Semitism.

So, the above-mentioned facts of relations between Germany and the State of Israel clearly demonstrate the possibility of reconciliation between the parties of the Second World War, including between the German people and the victims of Hitler's regime. This Germany's policy is not some exception, but concerns every country, which had suffered from the Nazi, Ukraine included.

This is confirmed by the German government's led by Angela Merkel active measures to support Ukraine in the confrontation to the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, and to promote the European integration process of both, the Ukrainian State, and other post-Soviet countries of the European choice, in particular, of Moldova and Georgia.

Besides, the reconciliation and the establishment of a special relationship between Germany and Israel negates the Kremlin's whole “hybrid” ideology on the use of the theme of the Second World War to incite hatred and enmity among the nations of the former Soviet Union and the Western world, as well as to discredit Ukraine's course of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

 

 

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