[QODLink]
Europe

German chancellor visits former Nazi camp

Historic visit to Dachau comes as Merkel steps up warnings about far-right threat while campaigning for third term.

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 03:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Merkel was invited by former inmate, Max Mannheimer, who was liberated from Dachau by US soldiers in 1945 [AFP]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited the remains of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in southern Germany, where more than 43,000 people were killed by the Nazis from 1933 to 1945.

What happened at the concentration camps was and continues to be incomprehensible

Angela Merkel, German chancellor

Merkel's visit on Tuesday was the first by a German chancellor to Dachau.

She was invited by a former inmate, 93-year-old Max Mannheimer, who was liberated from Dachau by American soldiers in 1945.

Speaking before the visit, she said she had been touched that Mannheimer, the head of the survivor group of Dachau, had invited her.

She said she was travelling there with feelings of shame and sadness, adding: "What happened at the concentration camps was and continues to be incomprehensible".

On Saturday, Merkel said anti-Semitism and racism remain a threat to democracy in Europe.

Divided reaction

Reactions to the visit during campaigning for German general elections on September 22 were divided.

Some consider it a very good and positive signal, but some critics have considered it to be a campaign stunt and not a genuine commemoration.

Political scientist Michael Weigl, of the University of Munich, said that although Merkel's visit would produce good pictures during the election campaign, it "stands in the tradition of German statehood to remember the Holocaust" and so is more than just "election campaign noise".

"It certainly is staged for the election campaign to some extent, but not merely for that," Weigl added.

Some residents of Dachau welcomed the chancellor's visit on Tuesday.

"No chancellor has been here before and I think it's good," said pensioner Werner Mueller.

But Kai Werner, a technician in Dachau, said it was "nothing but pure campaigning".

"I don't think it is of great meaning to her or crucial for the campaign," the 26-year-old said. "There are other topics which are far more urgent."

330

Source:
AP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.