Germany's top diplomat in Israel laid a wreath today in memory of the 6 million Jews slain in the Holocaust after assuring Israel that his reunited country would never reject responsibility for its Nazi past.

The somber ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial to the Jewish victims of the Nazis underscored the sadness and worry felt by many Israelis over the merging of East and West Germany.The speaker of Israel's Parliament, Dov Shilansky, himself a concentration camp survivor, called on Israelis to recite the "Kaddish," a Hebrew prayer of mourning.

Polish-born Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, whose parents died in the Holocaust, met briefly at his office with German Charge d'Affaires Heimo Richter before the ceremony at Yad Vashem.

Richter handed Shamir a letter from Chancellor Helmut Kohl, restating Germany's commitment to maintain "friendship and cooperation" with Israel, Shamir spokesman Avi Pazner said.