German Chief Puts Out Holocaust Flame

It was, to say the least, a very unfortunate mistake.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder accidentally extinguished Israel’s eternal memorial flame for the 6 million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust.

Last Resort: A Gas Lighter

At a somber ceremony in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Schroeder turned a handle that was supposed to make the flame rise. It went out instead.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who accompanied Schroeder to Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrances, stepped forward to try to help, but was unsuccessful.

Finally, a technician used a gas lighter to bring the flame to life again.

But by then the damage had been done.

A photographer was on hand to witness the unfortunate accident.

Schroeder was in Israel as part of a Middle East tour. Visiting dignitaries are taken as a matter of course to Yad Vashem to pay their respects to the Holocaust dead.

ABCNEWS’ Linda Albin and Reuters contributed to this report.

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