[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
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.