September 6, 2017 / 8:36 PM / 10 months ago

Holocaust survivors rock Berlin's Brandenburg Gate with song of hope

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two aging Holocaust survivors joined forces with a younger Israeli singer to perform songs of hope at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday at a time when Germany is seeing a rise in anti-Semitism.

Holocaust survivor Morris Dan points to his registered concentration camp number in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Saul Dreier, a drummer aged 92, and Reuwen “Ruby” Sosnowicz, an 89-year-old accordionist, backed up Gad Elbaz at a site once used by Adolf Hitler for anti-Semitic speeches.

“I don’t want to cry. If I can be 92 and be here after what I went through - there are no words,” Dreier told Reuters at the end of a long and emotional day

“This is a miracle. I lost 30 people in my family,” he told a crowd of around 80 people before the performance.

Dreier said recent news of neo-Nazi marches in the United States and Germany made him sick and brought back memories of the horrors of the Nazi regime that killed 6 million Jews. “It’s very frightening. Young people have to make sure it never happens again.”

The men, who both live in Florida, formed their “Holocaust Survivors Band” in 2014 and went on to play in front of packed audiences from Warsaw and Las Vegas to Washington, D.C.

Elbaz said the event in Berlin was meant to make sure younger people remained vigilant about the dangers of anti-Semitism.

Holocaust survivor Morris Dan shows photographs of his family as he poses in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

“This is about reviving history and showing our generation how important it is not to forget where we came from, what we’ve been through, and that it should never happen again,” he said.

Organisers plan to release a music video filmed during the performance of one of the songs, “Let the Light Shine On”.

Shani Ramer, 48, who was born in Israel but grew up and lives in Berlin, said the concert reminded her of family members who perished. “It touched my heart,” she said.

She welcomed the concert’s message of hope. “It’s saying we are still here. No one will kill us now.”

Abida Ali, a Muslim tourist visiting Germany from Pakistan, joined other bystanders dancing to the upbeat music.

Ali said she had experienced no discrimination during her visit despite her head scarf.

“It’s only a small percentage of the people who are violent,” she said. “There is hope. Everyone really wants peace.”

A study by Bielefeld University carried out last year showed that 78 percent of Jews living in Germany believe anti-Semitism has increased to some extent, or to a large extent, in the previous five years.

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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