Merkel voices concern over rising racism in Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel entered the sacred site of the former Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz on Friday when she first visited the most notorious place of atrocities Adolf Hitler's regime had inflicted on Europe.

"We are experiencing an attack on the fundamental values of liberal democracy, and a very risky historical revisionism that serves a hostility that is directed against specific groups", she said. "This isn't just rhetoric".

Merkel further said, "To be aware of this responsibility is part of our national identity, our self-understanding as an enlightened and free society".

We are witnessing and experiencing an attack on the fundamental values of liberal democracy. "Angela Merkel is very conscious of what she is doing, these are her last years in office, and it's important for her to go".

She said the country must stand up to anti-Semitism and said that Holocaust was made possible because "a large majority of the German population [was] looking the other way".

Merkel's visit came ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops of what was one of the world's most horrific sites.

A million Jewish Europeans were murdered in gas chambers or died of starvation and disease at the site between early 1942 and late 1944.

Neither chancellor had to confront a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

Why has it taken her so long?

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He had been invited to attend "directly or through a counsel" by NAME, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The list of desired witnesses House Democrats would like to subpoena to the committee has not been disclosed.

As the United Kingdom election campaign recently show-cased, anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head elsewhere. "These crimes are and will remain part of German history and this history must be told over and over again", she said.

Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has consistently spoken out against anti-Semitism.

In 2008, she turned the primary German chief to deal with the Israeli parliament. She's previously visited concentration camps in Dachau and Buchenwald and has been to the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem four times. "We pay particular consideration to anti-Semitism, which threatens Jewish lifestyles in Germany, in Europe and beyond". "This has always been a central affair of the heart for her".

How many German leaders have gone to Auschwitz?

Merkel also brought a donation of 60 million euros ($66.6 million).

They distanced themselves more clearly after a resurgence of ultra-nationalist violence this year, and the government has stepped up surveillance of would-be perpetrators and the protection of potential victims.

"Remembering the a responsibility which never ends", Merkel said during the visit in a message targeting calls from the German far right for a shift away from a culture of remembrance and atonement. A visit on January 27, the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation by Soviet troops, would have been the obvious occasion for a visit but by that time her coalition could already have been in deep crisis mode, the argument went.

Merkel and Morawiecki started their visit at the crematorium building and are then going to pass under the main gate, bearing the infamous sign in German "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free), visit an exhibition devoted to the camp and lay flowers at the Death Wall, where the Nazis executed prisoners, mostly Poles.

  • Sonia Alvarado