Eva Erben and Gottfried Buehler

By: ICEJ Germany, Ester Heinzmann

On Monday 27 January, around 800 Jews and Christians gathered outside the synagogue of Stuttgart to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. The ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the day of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp (1945), was organised by ICEJ-Germany.

Sara Granitza, Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, and Stephan Lehnert (ICEJ Germany) laid a wreath outside the synagogue, followed by a “March of Remembrance” to the Liederhalle Convention Centre.

Gottfried Bühler, National Director of ICEJ-Germany, addressed the packed auditorium: “Only together we can counter antisemitism. Politicians, churches, the media, every single one of us – we must assume responsibility.” Remembrance alone is not sufficient: “Antisemitism nowadays appears under a new guise – Anti-Israelism. As Germans who were born in post-war Germany, we declare our solidarity with the Jewish people and Israel!”

Michael Kashi, the board member of the regional Jewish community, pleaded not to forget what had happened: “Those who were brutally murdered deserve to be remembered.”

The guest of honour was Eva Erben, a lively and witty 89-year old survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp. Erben had travelled from Israel to speak in schools and take part in the remembrance ceremony. In 1941, she was deported to Theresienstadt Ghetto and later to Auschwitz. She lived through cruelties, hunger and sickness, and miraculously survived a death march. Erben and her husband, also a survivor, immigrated to Israel 1949. Today, they have three children, nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. “We were the ones who built Israel – out of the ashes of the Holocaust”, Erben stressed. The evening was brought to a close with a standing ovation for Erben and the joint singing of the Israeli anthem Hatikva.