TEL AVIV (Apr. 7)
Backed up by an honor guard of 18 young Israeli soldiers, the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, laid a wreath at the site of the Auschwitz death camp Tuesday.
“Maybe Israeli soldiers have come to Auschwitz 50 years too late,” he said.
The soldiers, children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, were flown to Poland to join Barak, the first incumbent IDF chief of staff to visit Eastern Europe.
He said at the ceremony that the events of the past 50 years have taught two lessons: that Israel must remain “very strong” and that the political and independent existence of the Jewish state could not depend on military strength alone.
Political wisdom and understanding were also required, he said.
Barak visited the site of the Warsaw Ghetto on Monday, stopping briefly at the place where his material grandparents once lived. From there they were taken to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps.