Sharpshooters Keep Watchful Eye As Israeli Embassy Opens in Berlin

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres offered a prayer for peace in the Middle East and for the victims of the Holocaust during a ceremony this week marking the opening of the new Israeli Embassy here.

With some 2,000 people attending Wednesday’s ceremony, Peres called the embassy “not only a House of Israel, but also a house representing all those driven out of their homes” by the Nazis.

Speakers at the ceremony included Israel’s first ambassador in Berlin, Shimon Stein; Germany’s foreign minister, Joschka Fischer; and Berlin Mayor Eberhardt Diepgen.

Fischer called the embassy’s opening “an extraordinary, special event for Israelis and Germans.”

The festivities — which included a live klezmer band and kosher hors d’oeuvres prepared by the embassy chef — took place under the watchful gaze of several masked, black-clad sharpshooters poised on the embassy roof.

The new structure is faced with Jerusalem stone and consists of six segments, meant as a reminder of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

It was built on land purchased in 1928 by a Jewish businessman, Hermann Schondorf, who was forced to emigrate in 1934, a year after the Nazis came to power.

The building was designed by Israeli architect Orit Willenberg-Giladi and built by Hochtief, Germany’s second largest construction firm.

The company also built Hitler’s Berlin bunker.

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