Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Sharpshooters Keep Watchful Eye As Israeli Embassy Opens in Berlin

May 11, 2001
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

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.

Recommended from JTA