Nothing prepared the Ambassor of Germany for this situation.

“Eighty years ago today I arrived at Auschwitz. At half past ten I arrived at Auschwitz. At 12 noon, the Germans engraved a number on my arm. Since then I lost my name and became a number. I was sixteen years old that day, and this number remains engraved on my arm to this day.”

Thus told Holocaust survivor, Mr. Velvy Klein from Vilna, to the Ambassador of Germany who held his arm for a while and looked at the black number engraved on it. This was the “opening” of the visit, during which the Ambassador discovered many new things that left him surprised and emotional.

Then, eighty years ago, on Sivan 3, 5704 (May 25, 1944) at 12 o’clock, when the number was engraved on his arm, and his human senses perceived that the entrance to the place he was in was one-way – could he, Velvy Klein, have believed that eighty years would pass and he would be able to stand in Bnei Brak, accompanied by his family, in front of the German Ambassador who would listen to this story, and look at him with admiration as a hero who was able to survive and build a new world on the ruins of the destroyed world?

Then, the Jews were mocked. Everything they had was taken from them, everyone dear to them was brutally killed, all their possessions were stolen, all their being and childhood memories were erased, even their names were erased. They became numbers. How would they have felt then, eighty years ago, at the gates of Auschwitz, if they had known that they would yet become “cornerstones” after being seen as “the stone which the builders rejected”? (Psalms 118:22)

But they did believe, and that is what gave them strength.

They arose from the ashes and rebuilt the Jewish People. And their strength, and also the strength of those who did not manage to survive and thus sanctified G-d’s Name in their lives and deaths, we at Ganzach Kiddush Hashem commemorate and document for the future generations.

On Monday, Sivan 4, 5784 (June 10, 2024) the German Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Steffen Seibert, visited Ganzach Kiddush Hashem.

The ambassador and his companions looked surprised at the modest archive and the “treasures” contained within it. The term “treasures” was coined by the Ambassador himself (who incidentally is a journalist and media personality by profession) when he realized what was embodied in the small and modest rooms of Ganzach Kiddush Hashem. “Treasures,” he whispered in amazement.

Indeed, there are ancient and exciting Jewish treasures in the Ganzach Kiddush Hashem archive, there is no doubt about that. But the treasures are mainly the wonderful and talented staff who do their job faithfully. They are the people in the shadows who do their work in silence, and when the guests come and are shocked, the “locals” suddenly realize that things here are not normal.

And to be honest, the real treasures are the Holocaust survivors whose image and work are an inspiration to us and future generations forever; by their strength, we live and we perpetuate their words and memories.

The words of Rabbi Moshe Abutbul, the Deputy Minister of Transportation and former mayor of Beit Shemesh, who also took part in this visit, were also in this spirit, as he spoke on behalf of the Israeli government.

The purpose-driven educational team, the dedicated and talented archival team, and the production and publication team, amaze every time anew with their original and unique way of thinking and unprecedentedly fast and efficient way in which they carry our their work.

At the end of the event, the guests watched a presentation of the Jewish history of Munich, Stuttgart, Hanover, and Hamburg, German cities where the ambassador grew up, studied and lived in. Photos, videos and documents from the Ganzach Kiddush Hashem archive were shown. This presentation was skillfully conducted by Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Shapira, one of the most senior genealogy and family roots researchers of our generation, and one of the best writers and researchers of Ganzach Kiddush Hashem.

Ganzach Kiddush Hashem’s CEO, Rabbi Zvi Skulsky, and COO, Mrs. Rachel Yud, expressed their gratitude for the helpful participation throughout the course of the event to the esteemed Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Shapira, a member of the European Council of Friends (of Ganzach), who is connected with Torah and kindness initiatives around the world, as well as has saved thousands of cemeteries throughout Eastern Europe. He has been a loyal friend and pillar of Ganzach Kiddush Hashem for many years; his heart is alert and his ear attentive, and by virtue of his energetic work and his many connections, the heads and management of Ganzach Kiddush Hashem benefitted greatly, by hosting these distinguished personalities.