German, Israeli Militaries Mark a Historic First

Nations conduct joint combat exercises
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2020 4:45 PM CDT
After Emotional Arrival, German and Israeli Crews Look Ahead
A German officer, left, chats with an Israeli pilot Thursday at the airbase in Noervenich, Germany.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Germany has welcomed military aircraft from Israel to its airspace for their first joint combat exercises in German territory, a milestone that both air forces praised Thursday as a sign of the cooperation between the two countries. "It was very emotional for us when, one after the other, the first Israeli jets arrived here in German airspace," a spokesman for the German Luftwaffe said. "Nowadays, we have a very intense partnership with the Israelis," spokesman Thorsten Weber said. "We work closely together, we do exercises together, German soldiers are being trained in Israel." Israeli Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel O., who didn't give his full name in line with regulations, said that during the exercises, he remembered the difficult past of Germans and Jews while also looking to the future, the AP reports.

During the Third Reich, Nazi Germany murdered 6 million European Jews and others in the Holocaust. Relations between Israel and Germany were difficult in the first decades after the end of the war but have been improving. "I think all of us are feeling it right in the heart how deep the past is," O. said. "But we're looking into the future and are happy for the opportunity of flying together." Nowadays, Germany is one of Israel's staunchest supporters. Still, most interactions between the two nations carry a deeper symbolic significance because of the horrors of the Holocaust, which ended 75 years ago when Germany surrendered in World War II. The Israeli pilots arrived at the base in western Germany on Monday for two weeks of exercises; the second week is with the Hungarian air force.

(More Israeli Air Force stories.)

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