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Laudatio von Botschafter Cord Meier-Klodt
Discursul de laudatio al ambasadorului Cord Meier-Klodt, cu prilejul decernării Crucii de merit în rang de ofiţer a Ordinului de merit al Republicii Federale Germania
domnului Dr. Aurel Vainer, 18 decembrie 2019
Este valabil cuvântul rostit!
Bună seara, guten Abend, shalom!
A warm welcome to all of you and many thanks for joining us at the ceremony awarding the Officer´s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany to the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, Dr. Aurel Vainer. The Order of the Cross of Merit is awarded by the Federal President of Germany Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the recommendation of the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Heiko Maas.
I am impressed by the response this invitation has received from such a great number of political dignitaries, and I thank them warmly for sharing this moment with us today. In my eyes, this demonstrates one simple fact: The outstanding personal esteem Dr Vainer enjoys at all levels of the Romanian society, and well beyond. Esteem, deep respect and profound friendship, even love.
Dr. Vainer has received official recognition so many times. Let me, therefore, take a few minutes to elaborate on the specific reasons for which Germany decided to award this high recognition to Dr. Vainer. I would like to focus in particular on three aspects:
One, the tolerant, open-minded and pragmatic spirit in which Dr. Vainer has always conducted cooperation with German partners – at all times and at all levels. As University professor, as Deputy President of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce, yet especially in his long-term role as President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania and as their political representative in the Romanian Parliament until 2016.
As concrete evidence, let me just mention one of the latest major success stories, made possible by perseverance and mutual trust, and by an exemplary team spirit within the Federation itself, most prominently between Dr. Vainer and his political „god son“, Silviu Vexler, the present representative of the Jewish minority in the Romanian Parliament (to whom I extend my warmest greetings).
I am referring to the recent decision by the German government to enlarge the circle of people entitled to receive monthly pensions in compensation for their labour in so-called „open ghettos“ of Romania.
Although it came rather late, fortunately not too late for many of the potential beneficiaries who can now claim this due compensation for their work with immediate effect.
Two, we honour Dr. Vainer for his exemplary spirit of solidarity in cooperating with other minorities in Romania. It so happens that today, on 18 December, Romania celebrates the National Day of Minorities!
So here is our marking this special occasion and the important role national minorities play in the pluri-ethnic Romanian society. As representative of the Jewish Communities, Dr Vainer has worked with amazing tenacity and energy not only for the key objectives of the Jews in Romania, but also for the general development of the country. Based on his close cooperation with leaders of other religious communities and ethnic minorities, Dr. Vainer has been, whenever needed, the voice of everybody – not just those he directly represented.
In this regard, no better example, as I believe, than the trusted cooperation between the Jewish community and the German minority (represented here, among others, by their political leadership Dr. Jürgen Porr and MP Ovidiu Ganţ whose special commitment to this cooperation I would particularly like to acknowledge on this occasion) .
A relationship based on mutual support on a broad spectrum of issues. Some of overarching joint political concern, as, for example, the initiative for a new Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Bucharest.
Others of more specific interest to one of the partners at a certain time, as, for example, the rehabilitation of the synagogue in Timisoara, as part of Dr. Vainer´s permanent goal to restore and promote the architectural, cultural and human heritage of the Jewish Communities in Romania. Yet, all this has never been a „one way street“!
It is, therefore, no coincidence that Dr. Vainer was also the first personality, neither a member of the German minority nor of German nationality, to whom the Democratic Forum of the Germans in Romania awarded their highest recognition (the „Golden Needle of Honour“) earlier this year.
This takes me to the third and arguably most relevant reason for today´s award.
We are honoring Dr. Vainer´s outstanding politcal courage in moments when such courage was everything but self-evident, yet needed more than ever before. When the good old saying applied (that, by the way, happens to exist in all our languages): A friend in need, a friend indeed, „Prietenul la nevoie se cunoaşte“.
I am referring, as you may guess, to those recurring incidents in recent times, when defamatory remarks and polemic accusations, including by high-ranking Romanian officials, were directed at the President of this country, at the German minority as a whole, or the German past in general.
No other voices (outside the German circles themselves) were heard in public as „loudly and clearly“ as those of the leaders of the Jewish Community. What they were able to express more convincingly than anybody else, was the demarcation of the precise border line between, on the one hand, politcal attack in more general terms, as a kind of normality especially at times of election, and personal defamation based on Nazi-, Hitler- or other inappropriate references to the darkest chapter of the 20th century, on the other hand.
Such defamations are so much more than „just“ polemic attacks on a certain person, or a group of people of a certain nationality. They are the totally unacceptable banalisation of the one crime without precedent in history, initiated and committed by my country, - the Holocaust -, and of the suffering beyond words it caused, first and foremost, to the Jewish people.
So, when Dr. Vainer and others raised their voices at such crucial moments, this wasn´t just an act of assistance to another minority, even less of self-defense, - it was an act of high political morality, based on the understanding that if we allow such banalisation to pass unchallenged in the case of one group of victims today, we open the doors for it to happen again in another such context tomorrow.
What really is at stake here, is one of the most relevant tasks for my generation, namely to keep the memory of this darkest chapter of our history alive, untainted and unquestioned. We owe this to the generations to come, especially since they will no longer be able to benefit from the personal accounts of the survivors. We owe this to them and to ourselves, in order to safeguard the one and only framework within which the horrors of the past may have a positive meaning for our common future: If „Nie wieder Auschwitz“ (Auschwitz never again!), in its broad fundamental understanding, remains deeply enrooted in our joint political „DNA“.
This is what Dr. Vainer, in his calm, wise, determined, yet never aggressive manner has reminded us of with clarity, with courage and with modesty. An often heard statement by Dr. Vainer goes as follows: „I’m a person like any other person. I’ve always made sure to remember this and to greet and respect all people I meet, no matter what their position is or their title! “
Yes and no, with all respect, dear Dr. Vainer! You much rather are a person like any other person should be, and in so many aspects! So it´s these very special qualities of this very special man and his many achievements in life that we wish to acknowledge today – and with gratitude.
One very last and rather personal remark, and I´d like to say this in Romanian:
Onorate, dragă domnule dr. Vainer,
Marturisesc că in întreaga mea carieră diplomatică am fost însoţit de un anumit sentiment de uimire – deja acum trei decenii la St. Petersburg, şi mai târziu la New York sau în alte locuri, şi acum, mai ales aici, în România! Uimirea faţă de generozitatea, căldura şi prietenia de care m-am bucurat din partea comunităţii evreieşti, a prietenilor evrei – în pofida contextului istoric despre care tocmai am vorbit.
Nu cunosc exemple mai bune, în acest sens, decât pe dumneavoastră, domnule dr. Vainer, pe soţia dumneavoastră, pe Rabinul Shaffer, prietenii noştri, precum Silviu şi Geni Vexler, Iancu Ţucărman şi Maria, şi mulţi alţii!
Pentru această „mică minune“ doresc să vă mulţumesc astăzi personal şi din suflet şi să vă urez – dumneavoastră şi comunităţii evreieşti – „Chag Hanukkah semeach“, iar nouă, tuturor, un an 2020 bun si cu multă sanatate.