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2015-08-14

Brandt vs Hatoyama

Willy Brandt, then Chancellor of BRD, kneeled down in front of the Jewish Heroes monument on Dec. 7, 1970.

‘Brandt falls to his knees in the ghetto’ from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Brandt falls to his knees in the ghetto Walter Henkel reports on the events in Warsaw Willy Brandt retains his composure even when laying wreaths.  He comes across as self-confident — a man with the inestimable advantage of a powerful physique that inspires confidence at an ordinary human level.  It takes a great deal to throw him off balance.  At monuments of this kind, which are usually referred to in books as memorials, he remains apparently frosty, unemotional and grudging.  At 9.30 a.m. yesterday (Monday), he had laid a wreath of white carnations at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder in Warsaw with full military honours.  Then the cavalcade carrying Mr Brandt and his Foreign Minister, Walter Scheel, drove into the former ghetto, to the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto.  The ghetto had been established by the German occupying forces between 1940 and 1943 and, in 1943, witnessed an uprising, mainly of the Jewish population, during which half a million Jews were killed.  Here, the Federal Chancellor laid his wreath of white carnations embellished with two ribbons in the black, red and gold of the German flag.  And, suddenly, Willy Brandt fell to his knees in front of this monument and bowed his head low.  He must have felt a deep sense of shame, and there was not a German person present who did not experience similar feelings.  The scene made a deep impression.  The Federal Chancellor paused for 20 or 30 seconds, while the 300 to 400 Poles who witnessed the scene looked on expectantly.  Some Jews were also present. Mr Brandt looks older, Mr Scheel looks older.  Nobody can refrain from describing the scene in detail.  All the men are pale: Carlo Schmid, Achenbach, Ahlers, von Wechmar, Duckwitz, Klaus von Bismarck.  State Secretary Egon Bahr and the industrialist, Berthold Beitz, did not join the silent procession from the road to the monument.  The young Germans that Mr Brandt had brought with him were also obviously moved.  

At exactly 12 noon, the distinguished politicians entered the Hall of the former Radziwill Palace, now the seat of the Polish Council of Ministers, to sign the Treaty.  Mr Brandt was flanked by Party Secretary Władysław Gomułka and Polish Premier Józef Cyrankiewicz.  A crystal chandelier of red and gold hung from the centre of the Hall’s ceiling.  The atmosphere was reminiscent of the era of the grand, elegant aristocracy who had built such palaces in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The very brief notes jotted down by the several hundred journalists herded closely together in the audience had to convey the details of an historic ceremony.  Mr Cyrankiewicz took his seat at the table on the left, his Foreign Minister, Stefan Jedrychowski, beside him, while Mr Brandt and Mr Scheel took their seats on the right. Mr Gomułka





While Hatoyama Yukio, former Prime Minister, kneeled before Wartime Prison in Seoul on Aug. 13, 2015.

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