Merkel expresses 'shame' during Auschwitz visit, vows to fight anti-Semitism

Cheryl Sanders
December 7, 2019

Given Merkel's "very clear attitude" toward the crimes of the Nazis, it should not be a cause for criticism that she has not made an official visit to the site until now, he told Die Zeit newspaper.

Her Cabinet has already approved a budget for 2020, and Merkel's favoured successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer could earn her stripes by assuming the role of deputy chancellor.

"We are witnessing and experiencing an attack on the fundamental values of liberal democracy and a very risky historical revisionism that serves a hostility that is directed at specific groups", she said.

"Nothing can reverse the unprecedented crimes committed here", Merkel added. The number of hate crimes against Jews, including vandalism of tombstones or synagogues, has been on the rise, and Germany's commissioner for anti-Semitism said in May he couldn't recommend that Jews would always be safe wearing a kippa head covering in public.

She called such responsibility a key element in German national identity today. The money will go to a fund to preserve the physical remains of the site - barracks, watchtowers and personal items such as shoes and suitcases of those killed.

Together, those objects endure as evidence of German atrocities and as one of the world's most recognizable symbols of humanity's capacity for evil. But they are also getting worse under the pressure of time and mass tourism, resulting in long-term conservation efforts.

"I find it astonishing that in nearly 25 years, no German Chancellor has visited Auschwitz", she said.

She reached out her hand because the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki grabbed onto her to assist regular her fall. The truth was that inmates were subjected to either immediate execution, painful scientific experiments, or forced labor.

Merkel was accompanied on the visit to the notorious concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation leader Piotr Cywinski as well as former prisoners and members of several Jewish organizations.

Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, will also be taking part in the visit.

The Chancellor reported the contribution, half of that comes in Germany's federal government and a half by the regional authorities, would see to it that the memorial is maintained.

Merkel became only the third German chancellor ever to visit the camp in Poland, with her highly symbolic trip coming ahead of the 75th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945.

Nazi German forces killed an estimated 1.1 million people at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex during their occupation of Poland during World War II. Most of the victims were Jews transported from all over Europe to be killed in gas chambers.

Tens of thousands of non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners-of-war, homosexuals and political prisoners were also murdered.

She was invited to attend the ceremony for the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which oversees the site.

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