German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has invited Israeli President Ezer Weizman to visit Germany next May to attend ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported this week that Kohl would view a visit by Weizman as a gesture of reconciliation between the Jewish and German peoples.
Weizman already accepted the invitation in “principle,” according to Der Spiegel, but he has been cautious about making an official announcement out of concern for possible protests by Holocaust survivors.
If Weizman does visit Germany, Israel is expected to link the trip to ceremonies commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries rather than as a gesture of reconciliation.
In a statement issued in Jerusalem on Sunday, Weizman’s office said that the president was invited to visit Germany when German President Roman Herzog visited Israel in December. That visit was described by both German officials and their Israeli hosts as highly successful.
Kohl, who was elected last year for what will be his last term in office, is eager to complete the process of rehabilitating Germany into the family of nations before his term expires.
A visit by Weizman is regarded as an essential part of achieving that goal.
According to Der Spiegel, Kohl has made several plans to mark the 50th anniversary of the war’s end. On May 7, he will visit London to attend British victory celebrations. On May 8, the date Berlin fell, a state ceremony will take place in Berlin.
According to Der Spiegel, the “hit” of the ceremonies would be Weizman’s visit, which is expected to include a speech before the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament, on May 10.