Diplomatic Ties Israel Germany

´╗┐Diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the then-Republic of West Germany were established in 1965, twenty years after the end of WW-II. Years earlier, in September 1952, a highly controvertial restitution agreement related to the Holocaust was signed between Israel and the then-Republic of West Germany.

Between 1958 and 1964, West Germany supplied Israel with large quantities of arms, under a secret agreement between the two governments. A crisis in the relationship between the two countries developed in early 1965, following the exposure by the press of the arms shipments and the subsequent decision of West Germany to stop them. As a matter of fact, this crisis led eventually to the establishment of the formal diplomatic relationship between the two countries, as one of the ways to get out of the crisis.

The public and political debate over the question of relations between the two countries and the restitution agreements did not end with the establishment of the diplomatic relations. Notably, the reverberations from the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961, and the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt in 1963, were still fresh.

Part of the public in Israel was opposed to the establishment of relations and the payment of reparations, arguing that they constitute a dishonor to both the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust. The issue of restitution and the establishment of relations with Israel were contentious in Germany as well.

Since the establishment of relations, both countries have made impressive strides in strengthening bilateral ties. Today, Germany is Israel's largest trading partner in Europe, while scientific and research ties between academic institutions in both countries are extensive. Germany gives Israel generous military aid, e.g. the Dolphine-class submarines.

Both governments encourage exchange programs between young people, students and young leaders designed for encounters and mutual acquaintance. Israeli dance and theater groups and artists appear throughout Germany, and Israeli authors are translated into German and have attained wide popularity.

Despite broad political, economic and cultural ties, the memory of the Holocaust continues to constitute an inseparable part of both the German and the Jewish identity, and to play a central role in the relations between them.

The stamp commemorating 40 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany shows the flags of both countries side by side. A barbed wire fence symbolizes the Holocaust that never will be forgotten.

In the past, many Israelis boycotted German-made products and avoided traveling to Germany. In recent decades though, the situation has completely changed: only few boycott German products and Berlin has become a very popular tourist destination for Israelis and even a magnet for young Israeli emigrants.

The above article is partially based on what Jonathan Miller, Political Counselor at the Embassy of Israel in Berlin, wrote when the stamp was issued.

The stamp was issued in 2005 as a joint issue Israel-Germany. Design: Stefan Klein & Olaf Neumann.