Adenauer Feted by Eshkol; Wants Jews to Recognize Bonn’s Good Will
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Adenauer Feted by Eshkol; Wants Jews to Recognize Bonn’s Good Will

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Former West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer making his first visit to Israel, sharply warned Premier Levi Eshkol last night that if the Jewish people failed to recognize the good will of the postwar German nation, “nothing good can come of it.” He made his statement at a dinner given him by Premier Eshkol. It was in reply to a speech by the Premier asserting that German-Israeli relations could not be normal because of the Nazi destruction of European Jewry.

The Premier told the visiting German leader: “We have not forgotten and we shall never forget the terrible holocaust in which we lost 6,000,000 of our people. German-Israeli relations cannot be normal relations. The Jewish people expects from Germany recognition of the special load which Germany is carrying from the past in its desire to be reaccepted in the family of nations.” The Premier added that the reparations agreement which West Germany accepted “was only symbolic and cannot erase the tragedy which occurred.”

The annoyed Dr. Adenauer retorted that “National Socialism killed as many Germans as it did Jews.” He then said “I know how difficult it is for the Jewish people to forget the past but should you fail to recognize our good will, nothing good can come of it.” The exchange took place during the dinner in the Premier’s residence.

Shortly before the dinner began, the Premier showed the text of his speech to West German Ambassador Rolf Pauls who asked the Premier to omit two particularly sharp sentences. The Premier did so but the rest of the speech still aroused the 90-year-old visiting statesman’s ire. After the formal exchanges, the two leaders continued a discussion in the same vein. Dr. Adenauer stressed that Israel must recognize the “new Germany’s good will and its desire to make up to the maximum for the crimes of the Nazi regime.”


Prior to the dinner, Dr. Adenauer called on Premier Eshkol for a talk during which he pledged West Germany’s support to the Jewish people and Israel. The meeting, held in the Premier’s office, was described as cordial and relaxed. Both men talked informally and without a prepared agenda. It was reported that Dr. Adenauer assured Mr. Eshkol that West Germany would give fullest support to Israel and of his desire that this support be extended at all international levels. Dr. Adenauer made special mention of West German support for Israel’s efforts to attain a more effective link with the European Common Market than its present limited access.

Dr. Adenauer also told the Premier that, when he had been Chancellor, he regarded a reconciliation between Germany and the Jewish people as one of the major problems facing Germany. Premier Eshkol in turn paid tribute to Dr. Adenauer’s stand for reparations to Israel but stressed that reparations alone could not atone for Nazism’s crimes. It was learned reliably that no mention was made of the 1960 meeting in New York City between Dr. Adenauer and then Premier David Ben-Gurion. Israeli officials insist that Dr. Adenauer then pledged $500,000,000 in aid to Israel when reparations payments were completed. Those payments were finished this year.

Dr. Adenauer came face to face today with Germany’s grisly past of 20 years ago during a visit to the Memorial of the Yad Vashem, the Israeli center for documentation of the Nazi holocaust. He stood stiffly at attention as a cantor intoned Yizkor “for the millions who were murdered and burned alive in the concentration camps.”

Dr. Adenauer was not taken into the cellar, currently under repair but only to the crypt of souvenirs. There, standing practically alone in the center of a huge floor on which are inscribed the names of the Nazi death camps, he seemed to personalize modern Germany offering regrets for the victims of its Nazi past.

Television crews, mainly from West Germany, and nearly 100 newsmen from many countries stood in the gallery and watched a deeply affected Adenauer light a candle and deposit a wreath on the tomb of the unknown Jewish martyr. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, world Zionist leader, stood beside him.

Throughout the visit, Dr. Adenauer remained silent but examined closely the marble plazues on the floor on which names of the Nazi camps are inscribed. Those closest to him were Sobibor and Auschwitz, which he studied for several minutes. When he was presented with a badge inscribed in Hebrew, “Remember,” he finally spoke saying “even without this badge, I never could have forgotten.” He signed the register for visitors and presented the Yad Vashem with a lamp.

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