Vilnius, August 24, BNS–As German president Frank Walter Steinmeier planned Friday to pay respects at a Holocaust commemoration at Ponar, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said his presence gave rise to emotions of gratitude and joy.
“We are so very thankful for the respect being shown, and Ponar is the symbol of all the murdered Jews of Lithuania,” Kukliansky told BNS.
She also said the Nazi regime was responsible for the Holocaust, but not all Germans.
“The regime turned some people into beasts, and we must hold the rescuers in the highest regard for not surrendering to that… I actually have this ambivalent feeling, I have the urge to apologize to the president because I was raised to think Germans are evil, but neither Germans nor Lithuanians are evil, the regime was evil. We should just thank him and take joy in the fact the president is coming to Ponar to express his respects for the people who were murdered so brutally,” she said.
Kukliansky pointed to modern Germany as an example to follow in the country’s stance towards Nazi crimes.
President Steinmeier on his official visit to Lithuania will also visit German soldiers at the military base in Rukla, Lithuania, on Friday.