LOS ANGELES (Apr. 15)
A remark by President Bush that the time has come to “forgive” Germany for the Holocaust has drawn sharp criticism from Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Calling the president’s statement “morally wrong and politically dangerous,” Hier said that “the generation of Germans who perpetrated the Holocaust can never be forgiven for their heinous crimes. Indeed, the only people who could have granted them forgiveness perished in the gas chambers.”
At a time when East Germans have for the first time accepted moral responsibility for Nazi crimes, Bush’s words sent the wrong signal to the young generation of Germans, Hier said.
While such Germans are not responsible for the crimes of their forefathers, “nonetheless, the legacy of Auschwitz must be permanently embedded into the conscience of the German nation,” he said.
Bush made his comments Friday en route to Bermuda for a meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He characterized his remarks as “personal observations,” rather than official policy.
“I’m a Christian, and I think forgiveness is something I feel very strongly about,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“I’m inclined to think we ought to forgive — not forget,” Bush said, adding that the Easter season was a special time to take stock.
“For those of us who have faith, most of the teachings have ample room for forgiveness and moving on,” he added.