Kohltells Knesset He Grieves for the Suffering Inflicted on the Jewish People by Germans
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Kohltells Knesset He Grieves for the Suffering Inflicted on the Jewish People by Germans

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Chancellor Helmuf Kohl of West Germany said here last night that he bowed “in grief for the suffering inflicted on the Jewish people by Germans” in the past.

He made that remark in the course of a speech at a dinner given in his honor by Premier Yitzhak Shamir at the Jerusalem Hilton. Kohl, who was 15 when World War II ended, said of the holocaust, “It is impossible for us today to imagine what happened then. But it did happen and Germany bears responsibility for it in history.”

The Chancellor, who arrived in Israel yesterday on a five-day official visit, addressed the Knesset today and gave assurances that neo-Nazism posed no danger in the Federal Republic. His government, he said, was constantly alert for any sign of a rise of neo-Nazi groups. He asserted that West German youth have learned from history and could not be influenced by neo-Nazi propaganda.

Kohl’s remarks were in response to Shamir who noted last night that the State of Israel rose 36 years ago from the ashes of the Holocaust and observed that if six million European Jews had not been destroyed, Israel today might have been a nation of 10 million rather than four million. One must be on guard not to re-open the wounds of the Holocaust, Shamir said. This was an allusion to German arms sales to Arab countries still technically in a state of war with Israel.


Kohl’s visit is in fact overshadowed not only by Germany’s past but by serious differences between Israel and the Bonn government over the latter’s Middle East policies and, particularly, West Germany’s planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Chancellor has had two private meetings with Shamir and was reported to have raised the arms sales issue himself at the first of these.

Although no details of their talks have been released, Shamir reportedly stressed that Saudi Arabia cannot be regarded as moderate in the context of the Arab-Israel conflict and maintained that weapons supplied to it would eventually be used against Israel, directly or indirectly.

Kohl’s reply was not reported. But German officials have been giving assurances, even before the Chancellor’s arrival here, that due consideration would be given to the Israeli positions on all matters when Bonn re-evaluates its Middle East policies after Kohl’s return.


Israeli sources said today that West Germany has made no final decision on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and is seriously weighing Israel’s objections. Kohl also addressed another concern of the Israelis. He reportedly told Shamir that Germany would be considerate of the problems that may arise for Israel’s agricultural exports to Europe after Spain joins the European Economic Community (EEC).

Israelis are worried because competing Spanish citrus and other products would enjoy the economic advantages of Common Market membership denied israeli exports.


At last night’s dinner in his honor, Kohl reiterated West Germany’s long-standing approach to peace in the Middle East, which is not shared by Israel. He said a political settlement in the region should be based on the resolutions of the Arab summit meeting in Fez, Morocco, President Reagan’s September 1, 1982 peace initiative and the June, 1980 Venice declaration by the EEC heads of state. Israel rejects all three and insists that the Camp David accords are the only basis for a peace settlement.

The Venice declaration supported the right of all states in the region to live within secure borders and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. “Peace is not possible against or without Israel nor is peace possible against or without the Arab side,” Kohl said.

An Israeli government spokesman acknowledged today that “relations between Israel and Germany are not a simple thing.” Asked if progress has been made in the Kohl-Shamir talks, he replied, “I think it is important that we are able to conduct a dialogue.”

Kohl’s visit to the Yad Vashem yesterday, shortly after arriving in Jerusalem, was without incident, despite protests by various groups and individuals opposed to any Israeli contacts with Germans. Security precautions were strict and cordons of police prevented demonstrators from reaching the area around the Holocaust memorial. One man was arrested trying to raise a swastika flag. Another protestor threw a stone at Kohl’s car.

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