German Friends of KKL-JNF Dedicate Park at Ghetto Fighters Museum

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 3:59 PM

"In the name of this little girl, who was not privileged to imagine a garden like this here in Israel, I want to thank you very much."

In everlasting memory of the children killed in the Holocaust, a new garden was dedicated by friends of KKL-JNF from Germany at the Ghetto Fighters Museum in Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot.

Inauguration ceremony by the Ghetto Fighters Museum. Photo: Tania Susskind

On Friday, April 19, about 22 German friends of KKL-JNF dedicated a new park, picnic tables, pergolas and a walkway at the Ghetto Fighters Museum in Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, which is located near Nahariya in the north. The ceremony was organized and graciously moderated by Jana Marcus-Natanova of KKL-JNF's European Desk, who greeted the guests and shared her family's travails during World War II with them: "I would like to dedicate my speech to my mother, who was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp together with her mother at age 16. She was liberated when she was 19, but sadly, my grandmother died two days later. It was in Theresienstadt that my mother met my father. On behalf of KKL-JNF, I would like to thank you, and would also ask you to convey our gratitude to our supporters in Germany who couldn't be here today," Jana concluded.

Beth Dotan, executive director of the Institute for Holocaust Education, welcomed the guests on behalf of the museum: "It is an honor to host you here today. Thanks to all the different things KKL-JNF has done for us, the museum is more beautiful, and it has become more special thanks to you. In the park you have helped to create, you can see children playing on the lawn and soldiers and other visitors sitting in the shade.

"In the Warsaw Ghetto, there was a young girl named Mary Berg who kept a diary, and she described how spring came to the ghetto. Her family planted radishes, carrots, onions, even flowers. She tells about how they ate the first radish, and then writes that everything is green, and nature is beautiful, but it is as if they are forbidden to enjoy it. She says that 'even a little bit of green is so precious for us.' In the name of this little girl, who was not privileged to imagine a garden like this here in Israel, I want to thank you very much."

Beth Dotan reads aloud from the diary of Mary Berg. Photo: Tania Susskind

The Ghetto Fighters' House – Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum is not only the first Holocaust museum in the world but also the first of its kind to be founded by Holocaust survivors.  Since its establishment in 1949, the museum tells the story of the Holocaust during World War II, emphasizing the bravery, spiritual triumph and the incredible ability of Holocaust survivors and the fighters of the revolt to rebuild their lives in a new country about which they had dreamed – the State of Israel.

Many of the members of the group had visited Israel previously. The theme of this ten-day visit was Israel's 65th anniversary, which they celebrated at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Georg, a software developer from Karlsruhe, Germany, said that he had been to Israel a number of times, "and I enjoy this country very much. I am a regular donor to KKL-JNF and have supported water projects and tree planting in the past. Every time I come I see things I haven't seen before, like this museum, and I am proud that we helped create this beautiful garden here."

Keren Muhs, marketing director of JNF Germany, said that the Lohamei Hagetaot museum had approached KKL-JNF and asked the organization to help finance this project. "When I saw it publicized on the KKL-JNF website, I knew that it should be undertaken by our German friends, and everyone agreed. I was very happy to see that donations came in very quickly. When people contribute, we usually send them a picture of a tree, but this time we sent them a butterfly, echoing the famous line of Pavel Friedman, who died in Auschwitz: 'There are no butterflies here, in the ghetto.'

Jana Marcus and Keren Muhs unveil the new sign. Photo: Tania Susskind

Peter, who is from Berlin, decided to come to Israel with his wife Rose: "I am retired now and am studying about Judaism at the Free University of Berlin. I've had a feeling for Israel since I was a small child, which was intensified when I discovered that my great-grandparents, who came to Germany from Poland, were Jewish. I have been involved with KKL-JNF since 1980, it is my connection to Israel. This is our first trip here. We had wanted to come for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, but ended up going to America instead. I am very moved to be here, Israel is gorgeous!"

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