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Historic Visit: Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan in Germany for the First Time

The Week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem Chairman to Open a New Yad Vashem Exhibition in the Bundestag and Meet with High-Ranking German Officials

17 January 2023

Next week, the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan will be traveling to Germany for the first time ever to open a new Yad Vashem exhibition in the Bundestag entitled "Sixteen Objects." During this historic visit, Dayan will meet several high-ranking German officials, including Federal President H.E. Mr. Frank Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor H.E. Mr. Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner, Federal Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser and Leader of the Opposition Joachim-Friedrich Martin Josef Merz, as well as German-Jewish community leaders.

On 24 January 2023, Dayan will open the new exhibition at the Bundestag together with Bundestag President H.E. Ms. Bärbel Bas. The exhibition, entitled "Sixteen Objects," was initiated by the German Society for Yad Vashem (Freundeskreis) to mark Yad Vashem's seventieth anniversary. It features unique Holocaust-era items, one from each of the Federal States of Germany, whose stories are intertwined with individual Jews hailing from across Germany.

The exhibition was co-curatored together by Executive Director of the German Society for Yad Vashem Ruth Ur and Director of the Yad Vashem Artifacts Department Michael Tal. Ruth Ur stated:

"By connecting the personal stories of these objects with the current modern locations in Germany, the exhibition creates a bridge between the memory of the past to present and future societies. The items presented, which are part of the Yad Vashem's Collections – both large, like the piano that once belonged to the Margulies family, or small, as in the case of Lore Mayerfeld's childhood doll that dons the pajamas she wore the night of the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht) – are a reminder of the countless lives and communities destroyed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust."

Also present at the exhibition's opening will be German lawmakers, German-Jewish community leaders, Israel's Ambassador to Germany H.E. Mr. Ron Prosor and Chairman of the German Society for Yad Vashem Kai Diekmann.

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan explains:

"I travel to Germany for the first time in my life, well aware of my deep responsibility to the past as well as my commitment, more than ever before, to ensuring a better futureץ The weight of the memory of the six million mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters – murdered less then eighty years ago simply because they were Jewish – is at the forefront of my responsibilities as the Chairman of Yad Vashem. At the same time, we are acutely aware of divisive antisemitic and xenophobic social elements currently at play in Germany and around the world. On this important visit, I will open an exhibition featuring objects whose owners were persecuted and even exterminated by their own countrymen and have since found their home in the Jewish homeland, the State of Israel. Through these personal stories, we will ensure that the last wishes of the victims of the Holocaust are fulfilled: that the world will know who they were and why they were murdered."

The exhibition features archival items from Yad Vashem's Collections juxtaposed with contemporary photos of the places from where they originally came.

Michael Tal, exhibition co-curator, concluded:

"We hope that the objects and their local histories will spark interest and a new way of engaging with the past.

The exhibition will be on display in the Paul-Löbe-Haus of the Bundestag for four weeks, and then travel to Essen to be exhibited at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein before returning home to Israel.

Also, during his visit, Dayan will pay his respects to the victims of the Holocaust by visiting Germany's central Holocaust monument, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. There, he will tour the exhibition pavilion and lay a wreath in memory of the Holocaust victims. In addition, Dayan will tour the Jewish Museum Berlin. 

Media is invited to attend a press conference with Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan at the Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof Hotel on 23 January 2023 at 11:00-12:30. Journalists interested in attending the press conference must register in advance. Please send an email with your details to press4@berlin.mfa.gov.il to register for this event.