Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) wants to visit the former Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz for the first time. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, the Chancellor accepted an invitation from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and will be attending a ceremony on December 6 for the tenth anniversary of her. According to the newspaper Merkel wants to visit during her stay both the former main camp Auschwitz and the camp Birkenau.
Merkel is only the third German head of government who visits the former concentration camp. Among their predecessors were only Helmut Schmidt (SPD) and Helmut Kohl (CDU) during their chancellorship in Auschwitz.
During her term of office, the Chancellor visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem four times. She explained the historical responsibility and security of Israel as part of the German raison d'etat. In 2009, Merkel accompanied Barack Obama to Buchenwald, whose liberation a great-uncle of the US president had been involved in the liberation. In 2013 she visited the former camp Dachau.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest extermination camp of the Nazis during the Second World War in Poland, then occupied by Hitler Germany. Some 1.1 million people were murdered there, most were Jews. 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Sinti and Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers were also murdered in the camp.
The liberation of the extermination camp Auschwitz by Soviet troops marks the 75th anniversary of January 27th. However, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has already announced the festivities. The Süddeutsche Zeitung speculated therefore that the time for an Auschwitz visit by Merkel pushes, because it is uncertain how long she still remains in office. Above all, there are only a few survivors who could personally report their experiences to the Chancellor.
The founding of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation in 2009 is the result of an initiative by former Polish Foreign Minister and former Auschwitz inmate Wladyslaw Bartoszewski. He died in 2015 at the age of 93 years.