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

Inauguration of the Friedensmal within a Garden of Freedom  (Bensheim, September 27, 2015)

Links:  Film on the inauguration ceremony

Organizer: Friedensmal Wendepunkt e. V.,  Cooperation partners: The City of Bensheim, German-Israeli society (Rhine-Neckar), (German)

To commemorate 50 years of Israeli-German relations, generations and nations come together at the Friedensmal. Artists represent their countries. The well-known Israeli singer Dganit Daddo sings for her country, while the “German bard” Eloas Lachenmayr sings for his country in venerable bard tradition. An exciting program full of music, dance, and culture – where cheerful moments were interspersed with serious reflection.

Batsheva Dagan from Holon, Israel was the event’s patron (Jüdische Allgemeine und 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. An Israeli school class from Haifa visited the school during the event on invitation of the Goethe Gymnasium.

Lecture contributions

Written address by Dr Schuster, Zentralrat der Juden (Jewish Central Council)

address by Egon Bahr, Prof. Dr Federal Minister (ret.)


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

Heinz Löffler (Goethe Gymnasium)
Thomas Zieringer (Friedensmal Wendepunkt e. V.)

Dganit Daddo sings in the Jerusalem Friedensmal

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 Mrs Dagan talk about the past and we heard our German bard Eloas Lachenmayr sing a song about a white blossom, the “White Rose”. The Scholl Sisters showed us, through their incredibly courage, what it means to assume responsibility. This is still valid today and i need to say: it's again especially valid today!

The Stone of Encounter 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 Israel, 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.

Now, on to the Plea for the Freedom of Expression:

“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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