The people of Israel have always lived due to miracles, from ancient times until today.
One of those miracles is – me standing here today celebrating the 60th birthday of the State of Israel and 63 years of my liberation from the death camps.
Who could ever have imagined the meaning of the "Extermination Plan" to have 11 million Jews disappear off the face of the earth! Our "big luck" was that "only" 6 million of our people had vanished in the gas chambers.
Three years after that horrible war, the State of Israel was established by only 600,000 Jews and I was fortunate enough to be among them. Again, Jewish blood was spilled like water, but this time our Jewish boys fought proudly and bravely holding arms in their hands. Once again a miracle occurred and a people that had lost a third of its sons and for 2 thousand years had been considered to be "an eternal victim" had won the war over 7 states that had had regular and organized armies. We, so few of us non organized warriors won! This deep and memorable experience fills my heart with gratitude.
I remember then, that with all my optimism I only hoped to stay alive, but deep in my hearth I feared I wouldn't survive.
In my most positive dreams I couldn't imagine what I would really achieve and what would happen to me as the years passed by.
In those horrid days we had to seal our minds and hearts otherwise we wouldn't be able to live another day. It had taken us years to break this seal and fully digest the horrors and the miracle that had followed.
I Sara (Hedwig) Gotdiner, who survived Bergen-Belzen, is engulfed with honor and love that you bestow here upon me today.
I simply cannot grasp it.
I want to thank you dear audience from the bottom of my heart for bringing me here and coming to share my memories with me.
As a little child that was in hell, giving me the feeling that most German people have changed and that there is a God in heaven, (no matter what is the name He is given).
I want to share with you a few answers I gave young people in Germany and all over the world.
They asked: "What kind of people had existed here that had done all those terrible things to you? How could it altogether have happened? "
I answered and explained:" The people are the same people you know today, but the difference is that the basis of their bringing up and education was endless hate." This endless hate blurred their common sense and understanding. They couldn't and wouldn't see how human dignity was being crushed to the ground.
For young people nowadays it's very difficult to grasp the whole situation.
Do only people who suffer pray to their God? Does only our own suffering bring a person close to his God and to his fellow man? Does suffering bring us to a closer understanding of our fellow man's suffering?
Is a person without some belief and hope in human dignity able to lead other people and look them straight in the eye? Can such a person lead others and at the same time look down at them and check their race, whether it's black, white, yellow or Jewish?
At home I was taught to pray at a very tender age, before I even understood the meaning of the words.
I always felt it gave me release; I even had my own prayers.
Anxiety always caused me to look for my own solutions.
I had to believe that after what had happened there, better times had to come. I had thought that my prayers would change everything for the best. Therefore I didn't stop praying and hoping.
I had prayed when it seemed there wasn't hope anymore and I wanted so much to live. I think my prayers and the enormous will to live gave me the strength and hope to live yet another moment, another day! All this time I hoped and thought to myself: we couldn't just be killed without somebody coming to save us!
So it happened, that during each war in recent years, the sirens, the fear and anxiety were stopping my breath. My imagination ran away with me and in my mind I saw a lot of light and trough it, figures coming to save us.
One of my strongest memories is the way the brutes have come and shaved my father's beard, he was ashamed to look at us. I was very sad then and thought that my father would smile again when his beard grew.
I also remember how frighten I have been to walk to school while the non Jewish kids hit us and called: "Dirty stinky Jews, go away, go to Palestine".
When the town of Debretzen was bombed and the Jewish Ghetto wasn't, we were again blamed only for being Jews.
In Israel today is the Holocaust Day commemoration.
All the eyes are crying and we all remember. We cry for the parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and all the unborn children to the parents who were murdered.
Six months ago I participated in the dedication of a new museum in Bergen-Belzen, where I was imprisoned.
I received the honor to greet in Hebrew.
With your permission I'll read part of it now…..