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Wild Melee Staged in Jerusalem As German Presents Credentials

August 20, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

More than 1,000 demonstrators clashed with police in Jerusalem today and turned the presentation of credentials by Dr. Rolf Pauls as West Germany’s first Ambassador to Israel into a bloody riot.

Twenty demonstrators were arrested in the yelling, weeping, fighting melee. About the same number of policemen and demonstrators were injured during the 30-minute demonstration. The screaming sirens of ambulances and shouts of “Nazi, out of here” and “Pauls, go home” drowned out the Israeli police band playing the German national anthem, bitterly remembered by Israelis for its opening words, “Deutschland Uber Alles,” which West Germany now phases: “Unity, Justice and Freedom.”

Police and other authorities had planned to make the ceremony of presentation by Dr. Pauls of his credentials to President Zalman Shazar, at the latter’s official home, as routine as possible. But many ex-partisans, victims of Nazi persecution and members of several political parties–mainly the right-wing Herut and the leftist Mapam–shattered those plans.

Starting early this morning, demonstrators lined the streets along which Dr. Pauls was expected to travel. His exact route had not been announced. Some of the protestors wore the striped garments of concentration camp inmates. Another group displayed a banner of Hitler’s SS Elite Guard of killers. Most carried placards urging the people of Israel to remember the Nazi murder of 6,000,000 European Jews.

The clash occurred when a group of the demonstrators broke through a police cordon at almost the exact moment that Dr. Pauls alighted from the limousine which President Shazar had sent for him. The shouting crowd surged toward the car, and the first police roadblock was tumbled. Mounted police held in reserve on nearby streets then moved into the crowd with swinging clubs.

At that point, some of the demonstrators had almost reached Pauls, who was inspecting an Israeli Army guard of honor. Blocked by the mounted police, the demonstrators began throwing stones at the police. The rain of missiles and police clubs resulted in the injuries.


Dr. Pauls, white faced, and his staff, started to enter the President’s home. The German envoy was met on the steps by the President’s Aide-de-Camp, Col. Raz. Dr. Pauls inspected the Israeli Guard of Honor quickly, then entered the house, followed by his aides. One of them was Dr. Alexander Toeroek, a Hungarian who became a German citizen. His appointment as counselor to the West German Embassy in Israel touched off a storm because he had been a Hungarian diplomat in Berlin when the Nazis were deporting Jews to death camps.

Inside the President’s home, the ceremony of the presentation of the German’s formal letters of credence proceeded. Among the participants were Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister.

Dr. Pauls, speaking in German, told President Shazar: “The German people attach great importance to the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. The new Germany looks back in sadness and abhorrence on the hideous crimes of the National Socialist regime which caused so much suffering, mainly to the Jewish people.” The envoy’s speech was translated into Hebrew by Israel’s protocol chief, Yehuda Gaulan. Dr. Pauls handed the President a large envelope, containing his credentials. Then President Shazar replied, in Hebrew.

Israel’s President declared in his address, which Mr. Gaulan later translated into English, that he was “greatly gratified to have received from you the letter of credence by which the President of the Federal Republic of Germany accredits you as your country’s first Ambassador to Israel.”

“All of us are profoundly aware of the special significance of this political act,” the President continued. “In the proposal made by the Federal Republic for establishing full diplomatic relations, and in Israel’s acceptance of this proposal, there is striking testimony to the vastness of changes that have taken place since the time of what Your Excellency has so justly described as hideous crimes.

“It is only 20 years since the surviving remnant of my people was rescued from the concentration camps and the fiery furnaces which the Nazi regime devised to exterminate all Jews in all lands it subjugated. The memory of those horrors and their victims is alive in the minds of our generation, and will never be forgotten by us nor obliterated from the conscience of decent men everywhere as long as sanctity of life and principles of justice are revered by humanity.

“Even in the most evil days of the holocaust, tortured and afflicted, my people never lost their sense of human dignity nor their unshakeable belief in the future. From this root stemmed the heroism which surged up in the death camps, in the ghetto revolts and in the struggle for Jewish independence in our ancient fatherland.”

Mr. Shazar told Dr. Pauls that the submission of his letter of credence “in Jerusalem, capital of the State of Israel, is proof that chaos does not last forever, and that even the darkest of nights must end with the coming of the dawn. Precisely because of the lesson of the bitter past, it is incumbent upon us to concentrate our energies upon the future, so that the disseminators of hatred may be cut off and the spirit of that evil period may never come to life again.”


After the translation of the speech, the President shook hands with Dr. Pauls. The envoy kissed the hand of Mrs. Meir, and shook hands with the other Israeli officials present. He then introduced his aides. Finally, the President, the envoy and the others present sat down to drink the traditional Jewish toast, “L’Hayim,” and to chat briefly.

It was noticed that the President was visibly agitated during the ceremony. Mrs. Meir kept her gaze on the floor throughout the speeches.

Meanwhile, a ceremony of a different kind was held outside the President’s home. A survivor of the holocaust, whose entire family was murdered by the Nazis, blew a shofar. An elderly rabbi read aloud from the Book of Psalms. Others yelled slogans.

When Dr. Pauls emerged from the ceremony, which lasted 40 minutes, the area had been almost cleared. But shouting was still audible. It rose to high pitch when Dr. Pauls paused to listen to the playing by the Israel Police Band of Hatikvah. Dr. Pauls shook hands with the police bandmaster and the commander of the Honor Guard, and reentered his car. His driver pulled away so fast that a second car of the entourage collided with a third automobile in the convoy. About 30 minutes later, Jerusalem was again quiet. The scene was normal except for the sight of an occasional policeman.

Dr. Pauls and his official party of Germans returned to their temporary Embassy in Tel Aviv’s Sheraton Hotel.

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