The work of ARSP in Israel

Action Reconciliation Service for Peace - ARSP (in German: Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste - ASF) is a volunteer organization founded by germans, who were seeking to confront the era of National Socialism in German history.

"We Germans began World War II and for this reason alone, more than others, we are guilty for bringing immeasurable suffering to humankind. Germans have murdered millions of Jews in an outrageous rebellion against God. Those of us who did not want this annihilation did not do enough to prevent it. For this reason, we are still not at peace. There has not been true reconciliation. [...] We ask all peoples who suffered violence at our hands to allow us to perform good deeds in their countries, [...] To carry out this symbol of reconciliation."

This recognition of guilt, made during the synod of the Protestant church in 1958, was the starting point for Aktion Sühnezeichen activity.

In almost 60 years of action, our work has grown and changed. Among other our activities today involves:

  • Long-term volunteer service in Israel, the United States, and divers European states, in Western, Eastern and Northern Europe.
  • Educational work - together with Holocaust survivors of at memorial centers or former concentration camps, in institutes and museums.
  • Confronting German history, challenging right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism, lobbying for the recognition of "forgotten" victims of the Nazi oppression and participation in peace groups and initiatives.

The first volunteers group arrived to Israel in October 1961. In the firs years ARSP volunteers were engaged in constructing sites, in agriculture work in in kibbutzim etc. At present 22 volunteers serve in Israel working with the elderly, with physically and mentally handicapped, with socially disadvantaged children, and at memorial sites and institutes such as Yad Vashem or research and documentation institutes as the central archive or the Leo Baeck Institute. ARSP cooperates also with various projects to promote Jewish-Arab understanding, and engaged in initiatives to support interreligious dialogue in Israel. 

The basis of ASF’s work in the state of Israel is an unconditional affirmation of the countries’ existence in it’s internationally recognized borders. The organization feels especially close to those groups that try to find cooperative and peaceful ways to deal with the Middle East conflict. 

Recognizing and accepting this is the basic prerequisite for genuine encounter, communication and mutual understanding. ASF runs an international meeting center in Jerusalem - "Beit Ben Yehuda" - and organizes seminars and encounters to promote inter-cultural, inter-religious and international dialog and relations.