Germany Donates $13 Million to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar says agreement is important source of funding, will be used to purchase significant Holocaust documents from archives in Europe.

Visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle signed an agreement Wednesday granting 10 million euros (13 million dollars) to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center over the next 10 years.

"The agreement signifies the German government's wish to help facilitate Yad Vashem's various activities in Israel and globally which further commemoration, documentation and education of the events of the Holocaust," Yad Vashem said in a statement.

Yad vashem nazi flag AP 26/01/07
AP

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said that the agreement constituted an important source of funding, and will be used to expand Yad Vashem's activities and to locate and purchase significant Holocaust documents from archives in Europe, making them accessible to the public via the internet, Israeli media reported.

"This decision reflects the importance that the German government attaches to the subject of the Holocaust. The commemoration of the Holocaust is an endless task."

"This agreement strengthens the obligation of the German government and the German people regarding Holocaust remembrance," Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said.

Westerwelle, who met Holocaust survivors at the Centre in Jerusalem, spoke of "a program against forgetting."

Among the survivors meeting Westerwelle was 80-year-old Vera Dotan, who survived Auschwitz and the death march the Nazis forced the prisoners to make as the advancing Red Army closed in on the extermination camp in early 1945.

Her father was murdered immediately on arrival in Auschwitz, and her only brother died of typhus two days before the camp was liberated.

For 40 years she hardly spoke a word of German. That changed in the 1980s, when she heard that some people did not take the Holocaust seriously.

"I then told myself, together with my husband: We must tell our story. People must know the Holocaust is not a fairy tale."

From then on, she has told her story again and again - also in German.

She said Wednesday that she was "very grateful" for the funding agreement. "We need a lot, and when it comes from Germany, it is maybe worth even more," she said.