Inauguration Celebration with Batsheva Dagan

Chapter: Milestones / Inauguration Celebration  -  Image: Batsheva Dagan, Frau Prof. Dr. Sigrid Jacobeit and Thomas Zieringer

Inauguration of the Friedensmal  (Bensheim, September 27, 2015)

Here you can watch the  Film on the inauguration ceremony.

The inauguration of the Friedensmal was the reason for an encounter festival at the monument site with school classes from Bensheim, Germany and Haifa, Israel and artists from both countries. Dganit Daddo from Tel Aviv and "the German bard" Eloas Lachenmayr from Lake Constance sang. It was a celebration of life with music, dance and culture - with cheerfulness and seriousness.

Batsheva Dagan was the event’s patron (Jüdische Allgemeine and Yad Vashem). She survived internment at Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, as well as other concentration camps. She expounded upon her life’s message “I want to break the chain of hatred” in various books. With this life’s calling to spread her message, she has received invitations to numerous countries, among which time and again to Germany. Mrs Dagan was accompanied by Prof. Dr Sigrid Jacobeit from the Humboldt University in Berlin. Mrs Jacobeit was the head of the Ravensbrück Place of Remembrance and Commemoration until 2005. In the context of the event, she gave a lecture at the Goethe Gymnasium in Bensheim one day later, followed by a lively discussion with the students. A school class from Haifa visited the school during the event on invitation of the Goethe Gymnasium.


Mrs. Batsheva Dagan
Mr. Greiling (German-Israeli society, Rhine-Neckar)
District Commissioner Engelhardt (Bergstraße district)
Mayor Richter (Bensheim)

Heinz Löffler (Goethe Gymnasium)
Thomas Zieringer (Friedensmal Wendepunkt Association)
Written greeting by Egon Bahr, Prof. Dr Federal Minister (ret.)
greeting by Dr. Josef Schuster, Central Commitee of Jews in Germany

Dganit Daddo sings in the Jerusalem Friedensmal

The well-known singer Dganit Daddo from Tel Aviv sings Jewish songs at the peace memorial for the inauguration.

Music played at the inauguration

The Peace and Freedom Monument was inaugurated with the song “Shir Hama’alot”, which features the words of psalm 126 put to song. The bard Eloas Lachenmayer created a German version, “a song in the higher chorus”. Eloas sings: "He (God) saved us from the fear that exposed us, and brought us towards joy and courage, to meet with each other, through all the pain and the rage, to bless each other in love."

Dganit and Eloas presented the song together, in Hebrew and German. 

Inaugural address

 (by Thomas Zieringer)

Many thanks to everyone who made this celebration possible today.

“Can’t we finally forget about our past? Of course, horrible things happened, but they happened very long ago.” These words were written by a Facebook user who commented on this event. However, this celebration of encounters strives to present a sign of life that reaches beyond us, who are present here today.

At the center of the Friedensmal visitors find a white blossom. We heard a survivor of Auschwitz, Batsheva Dagan, speak about a terrible past. In this context we heard a song about a white flower - "The White Rose" - by the bard singer Eloas Lachenmayr. The Scholl siblings made it clear to us, with their courage, what it means to take responsibility. This is true even and especially today!

The Jerusalem memorial stone by the side of the road bears the following inscription: “Yerushalayim, (...) to find our footing outside of ideology’s borders”. The German past illustrates with great horror what ideological imprisonment can lead to. To be free primarily means to be able to think in freedom, to dare question each and every ideology. This requires the courage to think differently, outside of the box, the courage to express yourself, and the freedom to exchange opinions. So, what’s the current state of the freedom of expression in our country?

I will now read a plea for freedom of expression by author Joachim Kuhnle. This will also be then end of the speeches and introduce the next part of the event: an approximately hour-long concert by Dganit Daddo and Yuval from Tel Aviv, who shall sing in Hebrew, and by Eloas Lachenmayr from Lake Constance, who will sing in German. Their pieces will alternate to mutually reinforce their emotive effect. I wish you great listening pleasure and a safe trip back home.

Plea for the Freedom of Opinion

“You have your own thoughts. You are not afraid of being shunned or isolated by the majority because of your opinion, but represent your point of view with confidence. You are always critical and question the behaviour of the powerful members of state and society. You will not be intimidated by threats. You speak in plain language and represent your own interests and the interests of those related to you. You are friendly towards your fellow citizens, even if they represent other points of views. You courteously point out that you interpret matters differently and substantiate your point of view. Even if you know that the person across from you can intimidate without using arguments (only through threats or moral attacks), you refuse to blame him or her for this, but simply ask questions.

You ask the person across from you, whether he or she only intends to accept people with the exact same opinions. You actively represent your points of view, also in public, and motivate others to represent theirs publicly as well. You consider the plurality of opinions an enrichment and try to further argument rather than consensus. You protect minorities, even if they have different opinions than you. If you meet these prerequisites, you can live a free and self-determined life. You make a vital contribution to the freedom of expression and in doing so protect society from enslavement and tyranny. You are not susceptible to manipulation and are protected from participating in atrocities. You are a sovereign citizen.” 

I would like to add a few closing thoughts: I hope that this site will be seen as a symbol for freedom. Here, people should be aware of the fragile nature of freedom, that it will crumble if nobody bears responsibility for it. Please continue to express yourself freely and get engaged for freedom. I hope that visitors to this site will continue to be inspired to speak for freedom.

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Read here a detailed report on the inauguration ceremony with many interesting pictures and explanations.

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