There are other Germans

After discovering that their grandparents were Nazis, the grandchildren decided to atone for their actions and to organize marches around the world. Holocaust survivor Noah Kliger met them for an unusual Sabbath meal.

After discovering that their grandparents were Nazis, the grandchildren decided to atone for their actions and to organize marches around the world. Holocaust survivor Noah Kliger met them for an unusual Sabbath meal.

All my life I have been skeptical about "lovers of Israel" and what they have said or written against anti-Semitism. Skeptical because it is hard for me to believe in the beautiful words they uttered as they had no expression in reality. But Friday night dinner, including Kiddush, which I attended, made me change my mind a little. I met a group of young people in Caesarea, most of them from Germany, who convinced me in their words and deeds that there are those in the world who support Judaism and Israel out of a desire and a sense of mission.

All those present at the meeting discovered in recent years that their grandparents had served in the SS or the Wehrmacht and had taken an active part in the annihilation of European Jewry during World War II. This revelation led them to join the "March of the Living" organization, the name of the traditional parade that has been held for 29 years on Holocaust Remembrance Day. But the parade organized by these young people is different because the members of the organization march in different cities around the world or from one concentration camp to another, especially in their area of ? the city of Tuebingen in Germany.

"Until a few years ago we did not know that in our area there were dozens of subcamps of the big camps - Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Dachau," they told me. To the new information was also added the news of the brutal behavior of the Nazis, which led them to do, not just talk.

The organization of their March of Life is active with about sixty volunteers who contribute not only their time but also their money to the project. Over the years, the number of participants in the marches has increased, with dozens of marches taking place in Europe, South America, the United States, and Canada. On the next Holocaust Memorial Day, members of the organization will march in Jerusalem.

The founder and leader of the organization, Jobst Bittner, is proud of the success of their "marches of life", which are supported by the Jewish people and organizations in Israel, as well as in Germany, the United States and South America, but asks: "We need more and more participants  even though we are growing from year to year"

It is clear that Jews, mostly Holocaust survivors and their families are enthusiastic about the initiative.

Do you not have support from the government in Berlin? I asked. "Here and there we receive little support, but there is no fund that gives us a fixed and serious sum," replied Jobst, "but as people with a goal in our struggle against anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, I am certain that one day we will receive serious support from the authorities.

"At the Kabbalat Shabbat I was invited to, the participants sang Shabbat songs and performed the Kiddush. I, who have been accustomed to tell about my time in Auschwitz and other camps and the death march over sixty years, was nevertheless moved. My grandson, Yuval, who came to the meeting on his own initiative, whispered to me: "Before, I would not have believed that such events could happen, but now I see that there are other Germans who believe in Israel and Judaism and are trying to prove to us that they are our true friends."

When Jobst asked the audience, "In which family were you anti-Semites and murderers?" I was shocked when all the German attendees raised their hands. Once again it became clear to me how correct it was to say that, apart from a few, all the Germans of that period took part in the extermination of the Jews. Who actively - in the SS, in the SA and in the Wehrmacht – and who passively supported and welcomed the liquidation of the Jews. The fact that post-war Germany and the second generation did everything possible to not bring the murderers to justice is repeatedly reinforced. The Germans after the war simply "disappeared" the millions of despicable murderers.

I told those present that I am still very skeptical about the concept of "Friends of Israel" and that the impressive and moving evening did not completely change my mind, but from now on I will be  less skeptical. It is possible that in a few generations there will indeed be a change in the people that planned - and almost succeeded - to destroy the Jewish people. 

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