Yesterday, President of the Bundestag H.E. Ms. Bärbel Bas visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, accompanied by Speaker of the Israeli Knesset Mickey Levy. Together they toured the "Flashes of Memory: Photography during the Holocaust" exhibition and the Museum of Holocaust Art, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, and visited the Children's Memorial.
President Bas also heard about the Nathan family, who, before the Holocaust, resided at Lerchenstraße 25 in Duisburg, next door to Bas' own private residence today. In November 1938, following the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht), Ferdinand Nathan was arrested and incarcerated in Dachau. After his release, he and his wife Irma realized they had no future in Germany and began preparing to save their two children, Ruth and Alfred, from a doomed fate. In early 1939, Ruth and Alfred were sent to Amsterdam while their parents remained behind. With the outbreak of war, Irma and Ferdinand found themselves cut off from their beloved children. Eighty years ago, on 22 April 1942, Ferdinand and Irma were deported to Izbica ghetto and were never heard from again. Their children had been deported a year later, in March 1943, from Westerbork to Sobibor, and murdered shortly after arrival.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan presented this research, including relevant documentation found in Yad Vashem's Archives, to President Bas. She was so moved by the story and the timing, that later that evening, after attending the Official State Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day in Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto Square, she filled out another Page of Testimony for Irma Nathan. Irma's name will be read aloud in the "Unto Every Person There is a Name" ceremony in the Knesset, which President Bas will be attending.
"Germans cut short the lives of six million Jews," President Bas remarked. "I think of the dead with sadness and shame. Germans denied the right of so many Jewish women, men and children to live. Nowadays, anyone who tells the stories of those murdered restores the humanity of the millions of victims. We must all do our part to preserve their memory."
The Page of Testimony filled out by President Bas will be added to the over 2,800,000 Pages of Testimony collected by Yad Vashem over the past seven decades. To date, Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names contains over 4,800,000 names of the murdered Jews of Europe and North Africa. These names are accessible to the public on its website, and searchable in six languages.