January 31, 2006

Exhibition ”Ein Visum furs Leben”

In Berlin the Wallenberg Foundation distinguished three outstanding leaders

Pastor Annemarie Werner

On 26 January 2006 took place the opening of the exhibition ”Ein Visum furs Leben” (Visas for Life), of the Israel Foreign Ministry at the Vaterunser Kirche in Berlin. The hosts were Pastor Annemarie Werner, leader of the congregation, and Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. Ilan Mor, official of the Israeli Embassy in Germany delivered the opening speech.

Also on that day the Wallenberg Foundation presented the Angelo Roncalli Awards to three distinguished persons who, since decades, work in Germany for the interfaith dialogue and understanding. Without the efforts of this paramount figures Jewish-Christian dialogue would have been mucho more difficult after the Shoah.

Baruch Tenembaum

Rabbi Professor Dr. Nathan Peter Levinson, guardian of Judaism and Jewish Life in Germany after WW II, builder of bridges and promoter of dialogue between Christians and Jews. Rabbi Levinson is the initiator of a Jewish high school in Heidelberg and for many years he was the President of the International Council for Christians and Jews (ICCJ) where he now holds the Honorary Presidency. He brought the headquarters of the Martin Buber House to Heidelberg from Great Britain.

Michael Mertes, responsible for the relations with Churches and other religious groups under the Helmut Kohl government. He worked intensely with the ICCJ, the Anti-Defamation League, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress and the Leo Baeck Institute, among other organizations.

Johannes Hildebrandt

Protestant Pastor Johannes Hildebrandt, founded the study group ”Judaism and Christianity” in the former DDR (East Germany) that fostered intensive relations with the Jewish community. He prohibited the building of a street that was planned to run through a Jewish cemetery; started the financial support of the Protestant Church in East Germany and protested against the public hostile attitude towards the State of Israel.

Rabbi Nathan Peter Levinson

Among the endorsements received it is worth mentioning the letters of Tom Lantos, US Congressman; Guillermo Oliveri, Argentine Secretary of Cult; and Raphael Eldad, Israeli Ambassador. Among the attendants there were Enrique Candiotti, Argentine Ambassador to Berlin and Dr. Uwe Klett, Mayor of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

On the occasion it was presented the last book of Rabbi Levinson -a prolific author with more than two dozen books published- ”Widerstand und Eigensinn” (Resistence and Perseverance).

Since 26 September 2004 there is inside the Vaterunser Kirche a Memorial Mural that pays tribute to the victims of the Shoah and all the people killed as a consequence of the terrorist attacks perpetrated to Jewish institutions in Buenos Aires.

This Mural is a replica of the one inaugurated in the Buenos Aires’ Cathedral in 1997. The installation of both pieces followed an initiative of Baruch Tenembaum. The Berlin Mural is the second Shoah Memorial installed inside a Christian Church.

Following the latest Shoah denials it is imperative not only to remember the victims of the Holocaust but also to pay due homage to all the silent heroes who saved the lives of people -Jewish and non-Jewish- persecuted by the Nazi regime. The Mural is a symbol that stands for the values of solidarity and civic courage with the aim of building bridges between religions and people of good will.