World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder spoke at the start of the European Maccabi Games on Tuesday, which is being held at Berlin's Olympic Park – that was built by the genocidal Nazis for the 1936 Olympic Games.
According to Lauder, holding the Jewish athletic competition at the Nazi stadium represents "a triumph of good over evil."
"Here we are, 70 years since the concentration camps were liberated and the true horror of the Nazis was realized, at the stadium (Adolf) Hitler built, to celebrate the Jewish European Maccabi Games,” Lauder said at a reception at the Park ahead of the opening ceremony of the Games on Tuesday night.
"For those who say this is not the right place to hold these games, I say, to the contrary, this is exactly where these games should be held. This place, this stadium, is where these games should be held," argued Lauder.
Explaining his statement, he added, "it is said that the best way to overcome a terrible event is to go back to where it happened, to show yourself that you can return, and to prove to everyone that you can endure and move on."
"I believe this is true not just for Jews, but for Germans as well. So here we are at the Stadium Hitler built, but we are here in brotherhood. We are here to support one another. And we are here – in Hitler’s Olympic Stadium – to celebrate the Jewish Maccabi Games. This represents a triumph of good over evil. And with each triumph, we move the world forward."
Last week German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière likewise remarked on the significance of holding the event at the very site where German Jewish athletes were forbidden from the 1936 Olympics.
Lauder wished the 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries good luck in their competitions held in 19 different sports.
"Remember, while it is great to win, you have already won just by being here, by representing your people with courage and strength, by being proud of your ancient heritage, and for giving us all hope for the future.”
The first European Maccabi Games were held in Prague in 1929, but not long after Jewish sports associations were banned with the rise of Nazism. The games were reinstated in 1969 and take place every four years, alternating with the Maccabiah Games in Israel.