Dear Mr. Baruch Tenembaum,
Mr. Home Secretary, Otto Schily,
Dear Bishop Dr. Wolfgang Huber,
Mr. Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the Central Board of the Jews in Germany,
In behalf of the Senate and the Mayor Governor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, I thank you for your presence today.
This meeting is one of the activities of the Cultural Dialogue between Berlin and Buenos Aires.
Berlin and Buenos Aires are joined by the mutual interest in the culture of the twin towns.
In both cities men and women gave shelter to refugees. In Buenos Aires lots of European Jewish refugees had a warm welcome during the Nazi era.
It was during those days that the roots of our close cultural relationship were settled down.
Let me put an example: Erich Kleiber, the first conductor of the National Opera of Berlin, found a ”new country” in the Colón Theatre of Buenos Aires during the Nazi regime until he could come back to Berlin when the Second World War ended.
Moreover, think about the conductor Michael Gielen, who, when he was a child, escaped to Argentina. Gielen studied in the Colón Theatre with Master Kleiber and nowadays he often conducts the Berlin National Opera.
On 17 March 1992 a bomb exploded in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killing 29 people. On 18 July 1994 another bomb destroyed the Jewish Centre killing almost 90 people and wounding more than 200. The Anti-Semitic violence stroke also the argentine Capital.
The Mural, an initiative of the International Foundation Raoul Wallenberg, was unveiled in April 1997 in the (Catholic) Cathedral of Buenos Aires. It recalls the Anti-Semitic terror of the Holocaust and of today.
Furthermore, it recalls the Nazi horrors. The Mural contains writing pieces that were saved from the Nazi effort to destroy all the European Jewish evidence, which had its origin precisely in Berlin.
Today we unveil a Mural’s Replica in an Evangelical Church, the Vaterunser Church.
So, in a symbolic way it is worth saying that it is a topography not only of the persecution and murder but of the memory and recollection as well.
And this topography of the memory and recollection is so universal as the Christian and Jewish Religions or as the Raoul Wallenberg’s plight for human rights.
It is important that this combined recollection of the persecution and genocide has its place within the framework of ”Cultural Dialogue Berlin-Buenos Aires”. This part of the History joins together our cities too and it is one of the sources that nourishes both cities’ culture.
Berlin is very proud to exhibit this Mural in one of its churchs. The Mural compells us to face with determination any form of Anti-Semitic expression and violence; including the burst of the extreme right-wing ideologies showed in the recent elections that took place in Germany.
Berlin is a tolerant and open to the world metropolis. We’re very proud that half century after Auschwitz, the Jewish people of Berlin feel ”at home” again, welcome and safe. It’s a great sign of trust.
I thank the Foundation Raoul Wallenberg and Baruch Tenembaum for this Mural.
I thank the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Oberlausitz Silesian and the Evangelical Church in Germany for choosing the Vaterunser Church to house the Mural.