Israeli Air Force Heads to Germany for Joint Exercises

In a historic first, the Israeli Air Force is conducting joint exercises with its German counterpart.

A total of eight Israeli aircraft and 180 personnel participate in the two-week-long exercises.

German and Israeli fighter jets conducted a flyover of the former Dachau concentration camp near Munich on Aug. 18.

“There’s a present, there’s a future, but one should not forget about the background against which all relationships are taking place,” said Shimon Stein, senior research fellow at The Institute for National Security Studies and former Israeli ambassador to Germany.

Tens of thousands of Jews and other group were killed or died from mistreatment at Dachau during World War II.

Following the flyover, a ceremony was held at the memorial site.

Many of the Israeli aircrew members are grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Some brought symbolic items onboard, like a poetry book belonging to one’s grandfather who survived Dachau.

“There’s also a special situation for us Germans, that Israeli pilots, children of survivors of the Holocaust, have no problem working together with Germans soldiers in German uniforms,” Jürgen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU Group in the German Parliament.

It’s not only about symbolism and remembrance.

The Israeli Air Force said the exercises give them a chance to practice in unfamiliar surroundings, while the Germans hope to learn from one of the best air forces in the world.