The Pain Will Never Dull, but One Must Look Forward With Hope

The speech Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken gave at a reception last night to mark the sale of 25 percent of the group to German investors:

Good evening, I thank you all for coming tonight to celebrate with us the investment of M. DuMont Schauberg in Haaretz, a move that highlights the importance and value of Haaretz, and a move that strengthens Haaretz in an unprecedented way.

It is my pleasure to welcome Hedwig and professor Alfred Neven DuMont, Christian DuMont Schutte, and Konstantin Neven DuMont, all DuMont family members, as well as Dr. Eberhard Klein, the chief financial officer of DuMont, and Mr. Peter Pauls, who represents Mr. Alfred Neven DuMont and the company.

It is my pleasure to welcome ambassadors Harald Kinderman, the German ambassador to Israel and Avi Primor, the previous Israeli ambassador to Germany, who introduced the two companies, and the two families.

We thought it would be nice to hold this event, with mostly Haaretz people and friends, so that this event of one company investing in another will also have a personal aspect. There are people involved in this, and we thought it would be a nice opportunity for our people, journalists and managers alike, to meet the DuMont family, which is here with us and will be with us in the future, as is said in similar occasions, in good times and in bad times.

And speaking about bad times, I think I will not disclose private information if I tell you what Alfred Neven DuMont said to me when I visited him in Cologne two weeks ago, when our agreement was not yet signed. He said: "I thought about this new situation of the war and what it may mean to our future investment, but I said to myself: This new situation makes me even more eager to finalize this deal".

But we should make clear that this new investment in Haaretz is a business investment. It should be justified economically, and we certainly look forward to good times and good results.

We like to think that Haaretz has in Israel an exceptional public standing. This standing derives from the fact that editorial decisions made at Haaretz over the years were guided exclusively by what the editors of this newspaper believed would serve the public best, and by values of democracy, freedom and justice. Securing the ability to continue to do so for many more years was a most important consideration in selecting a suitable partner for Haaretz. In DuMont Schauberg we found a publisher of many years, actually 200 years, with a deep understanding of the public service aspect of this business, with similar values, and one that looks for a very long term relationship.

Peter Pauls, DuMont Schauberg's manager and personal representative of Alfred Neven DuMont, spoke in his interview with Haaretz this morning of the "historic dimension" of our alignment. This, of course, is no exaggeration. It expresses the uniquely painful nature of relationships between the new Germany and the new Israel after the Holocaust.

For us as Jews and Israelis, the Holocaust is forever present in our lives, and the whole of our future history will forever be the post-Holocaust era. We can't forget. Forgetting is not even an option.

My own family's history, the home I grew up in, encapsulated the pain - but also the ability of human beings to look forward with hope. My grandfather was the epitome of the proud Jew and proud German.

My father was born in Germany but left at age 21 when Hitler was elected. As a Knesset member in the 1950s, he proposed that business deals with Germans be outlawed. In the 1960s, he refused to buy a German-made printing press. In later years he did use German products without hesitation and he frequently traveled to Germany.

So with the years, attitudes changed. The pain did not dull. It never will. But the hope grew. The hope grew as the new generation of Germans grew up, courageous enough to look their past straight in the eye. It grew with the burgeoning relationship between the State of Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany, and now with reunited Germany.

My family and myself do see this deal has a historic dimension. We thought long and hard about what it means, to us, to our paper, to its role in our country. When we met Alfred Neven DuMont and the DuMont people, we saw there is a base of understanding and similar values that can make this deal work.

Alfred Neven DuMont and his close family and assistants represent the new generation of Germans that I spoke about. To them, too, it is important the past be researched and known.

DuMont Schauberg has engaged in publishing under the same family guidance for more than 200 years. Alfred Neven DuMont has led the company in the past 40 years of expansion and profitability. He has been a leading figure in the German press for many years, he has been visiting Israel since 1953, he attended the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, and so far he has invested in Eurofund, an Israeli venture capital fund, and has contributed to The Peres Center for Peace, and The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. With this new investment, the DuMont family becomes much more involved with Israel, and I think this is all for the good of Israel and for the good of Haaretz. I hope it is also for the good of DuMont.

There are many who helped us in this transaction: lawyers, auditors, consultants, managers on both sides. It was done in an elegant and smooth way and I should thank many. Let me mention some of them who are present here: Dr. Eberhard Klein from DuMont Schauberg, Haim Inselberg and Eyal Ben Sirah on the Haaretz side, the Lawyers Zeev Liond and Yaacov Israeli and their teams, KPMG Israel, and last but not least our bankers Rakefet Rusk Aminach and her team from Leumi, and Shai Talmon and his team from Hapoalim. Both teams were helpful, forthcoming and effective: I thank them all.