During our stay in Haifa we had the great opportunity to interview Josef Dagan, a survivor of the holocaust and the Grandfather of a student at the Leo Baek educationcenter.
Josef Dagan was born in a little town in Burcovina. His mother tongue is German because most people in the Burcovina region spoke German. In July 1941 he, his brother and his mother were taken into an unknown basement by romanian soldiers. His cousin and his dad got "taken away" and killed by still unknown men. Three days later he, his mother and his brother were taken into an open Jewish ghetto in Ukraine, where his mother and a lot of other Jews died of Typhus due to a lack of medical attention. In addition to that they had to find a way to get food. Josef called himself a "street cat" because he had to bum his way through this tough time. He made friends with a german officer of the Wehrmacht called Loske and worked for a romanian policeman. Due to these relationships he managed to get himself and his brother through life.
In 1943 the two boys got chosen by a youth organization of the red cross to go to Israel and start a new life. They arrived on the first of May in 1944. In the beginning the Jews lived peacefully with Arabs, Palestinians and other ethnic groups.
In 1947 the situation changed when Josef's arab school friend came to tell him, that he has to leave because otherwise he was going to be killed. A couple of weeks later Josef told his arab friends that they were allowed to stay and were not going to be harmed. Inspite of that they left because it was clear that the Arabs were not going to accept the two state system, which was discussed by the UN.
In 1947 he fought for the Haganah and when Israel was founded in 1948 he worked in the official Israeli army until 1982. The first time he went back to Germany was in 1979. In a small Pub he met an older man and started talking to him. It turned out he was an officer in the SS and claimed, that it was the fault of the Jews, that the Germans lost the II World-War. Still he does not dislike the Germans. In his opinion the German youth should not be made responsible for the Holocaust, because they did not exist when all of this occurred. He went even further and said: the Germans are the Israeli's best friends in Europe and he thanked them for their support. Yoseph – a man who fought 30 years for Israel and grew up during the war said, that bad peace is still better, than a good war!