July 29th, 2015

Welcoming address of the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster, at the opening ceremony of the European Maccabi Games, 28.7.2015, Waldbühne Berlin

Dr. Josef Schuster


Today a dream comes true!

70 years after the Shoa, almost 80 years after the 1936 Olympic Games, when Hitler deceived the world exactly on this spot with a perfectly devised propaganda show; when only 40 kilometres from here the KZ Sachsenhausen was built; just a few centuries later, we are standing here!

Round about 2,000 Jewish sportspeople, hundreds of members of our Jewish communities, hundreds of members of the Maccabi-associations and thousands of friends of the Jewish community.

This is a dream, which many of us would never have dared to dream.

Today it has become reality!

The European Maccabi Games have come to Germany for the first time!

To Berlin!

To the city where the holocaust of the Jews was planned and from where the Shoa was cruelly implemented. Today this city welcomes Jews from all over Europe and the whole world!

Here is where we want to carry out our competitions. Here we want to elect the best Jewish sportspeople. Here is where dreams of medals come true.

But this is not only about winning. It is an honour to be a part of it. And also those who do not win a match, will be winners in the end. Because all of you – dear sportspeople – will go home enriched!

Ladies and gentlemen!

The international Maccabi movement is reaching out to Germany: it trusts Germany. It counts on Germany as an ally. Just as thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union trusted Germany and moved here. They have let our Jewish life blossom again and herewith made Germany a great gift.

But we also have a lot to be grateful to Germany for over the course of the last 70 years: a life in peace and security. Let us celebrate all of this together: with both our Jewish and non-Jewish friends!

Where Hitler bellowed his “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles“(“Germany, Germany above all”), we today sing the Hatikvah. Where the Nazis dreamt of a Europe free of Jews, we let our Jewish dream come true.

We ignite a firework of Jewish culture, a firework of emotions, a firework of records!

And from the bottom of my heart I would like to say thank you: Thank you to Makkabi Germany and the organisation of the games – in the end, they worked day and night! Thank you to the city of Berlin for their great support! Thank you to the 300 volunteers without whose support the games would not have been possible! And thank you to the hundreds of policemen and policewomen who protect us! Thank you to all who made this dream come true!

Competing in sports, united at hearts!

Maccabi Chai!