JERUSALEM (Oct. 9)
President Richard von Weizsaecker of West Germany placed a wreath on the tomb of Theodor Herzl today. The first German chief of state ever to come to Israel, von Weizsaecker arrived yesterday on a four-day official visit accompanied by his wife, Marianne.
Within an hour after landing at Ben Gurion Airport where they were greeted warmly by President Chaim Herzog, the couple paid a solemn visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in tribute to the six million Jews slain by the Nazis in World War II.
Earlier, as he stepped from his special Lufthansa airplane, the West German President spoke forthrightly of the Holocaust. “We Germans will certainly not thrust away remembrance of the past,” he said, speaking in English. “The Jewish people were subjected to untold persecution. The past cannot be wiped out. The more openly we face the truth, the freer we are to meet present day challenges.”
Herzog noted in response that von Weizsaecker has demonstrated on many occasions throughout his career “your dedication to reconciliation and your concern for our future.” At an official dinner later, Herzog made a point of praising von Weizsaecker’s Bundestag speech of last May 8, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the war and the fall of the Third Reich.
ENCOURAGED BY PERES VIEWS
The German President met with Premier Shimon Peres and, according to Israeli sources, indicated he was very encouraged by Peres’ outline of diplomatic prospects for peace and Israel’s intentions. Much of his discussions with Peres and other Israeli officials focussed on international terrorism and its latest manifestation, the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro Monday by Palestinian gunmen who held 400 passengers and crew members hostage, including a large number of German nationals among the former. (The hijackers surrendered today. See separate story.)
Peres expressed the view that the fight against terrorism enhanced rather than impeded the peace process. Unbridled terrorism diminishes the prospects for peace, he said.
Peres cited evidence which he said proved direct links between the Palestine Liberation Organization base in Tunisia, destroyed by Israeli bombers a week ago, and the murder of three Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists aboard a yacht at Larnaca, Cyprus September 25. The Premier bluntly expressed his bafflement at Europe’s wholesale condemnation of Israel for the raid.
According to unconfirmed reports circulating here today, Peres may boycott the session of the Socialist International in Vienna next week which he planned to attend enroute to the United States. This would be an expression of his displeasure at the wave of criticism of the air raid from Socialist and other quarters in Europe.
Von. Weizsaecker visited holy sites in East and West Jerusalem today. His visit to East Jerusalem was made in private rather than official capacity.