Shimon Peres President of Israel addresses German Parilament in Reichstag in Berlin as the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day | guardian.co.uk

The significance of the occasion could not have been overstated – and it was not lost on the 622 politicians gathered in the Reichstag, a symbol of postwar transparency and democracy.

Today, Shimon Peres became the first Israeli president to choose Holocaust Remembrance Day to address the nation responsible for the murder of six million Jews on what was described as a "groundbreaking occasion" in both Jerusalem and Berlin.

Traditionally, German leaders have travelled to Israel on this day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Red Army soldiers, and given speeches in the Knesset which have often been boycotted by Israeli politicians.

This time, it was Peres's chance to use the occasion to address Germany, which is seeking a more intense relationship with Israel at a time when other countries are becoming more distant towards it.

German commentators said it was significant that the country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, and her colleagues had greeted Peres with kisses and hugs at a time when Israeli leaders are getting increasingly chilly receptions elsewhere.

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