Published: Sat, December 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Angela Merkel warns of new wave of anti-Semitism as she visits Auschwitz

Angela Merkel warns of new wave of anti-Semitism as she visits Auschwitz

The new co-leader of Germany's Social Democrats said on Friday (Dec 6) she doubted that their coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives would survive but was ready to give it a chance. "We must remember the crimes that were committed here and name them clearly", Merkel said during a ceremony attended by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

"Auschwitz in particular compels and commits each and every one of us to be vigilant on a daily basis, to preserve humanity and to protect the dignity of our neighbors", she said.

"Being aware of this responsibility is an integral part of our national identity".

Before her speech, Merkel and Morawiecki toured the camp's crematorium where victims' bodies were burned.

Merkel entered the camp through the infamous gate under the sign that reads "Arbeit Macht Frei".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel walks toward the main railway entrance to Birkenau, the largest of the camps that made up the Auschwitz complex in Poland.

Merkel's trip, the first by a German chancellor in nearly a quarter-century, comes just two months after a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Halle, and as Germany once again grapples with rising anti-Semitism.

"To combat anti-Semitism, the history of extermination camps has to be shared, it has to be told", she said.

"When a defence minister who is also CDU chairwoman wants to see the Bundeswehr (Germany's armed forces) again deployed - as she innocently puts it - in as many places as possible in the world, that is utterly wrong". The Soviet army liberated the camp on January 27, 1945.

Merkel brought a 60-million-euro ($66.13 million) donation from Germany's federal government and its 16 states to help conserve the site where 1.1 million people were killed, majority Jews.

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As well as Jewish people, there were also tens of thousands of Polish and Roma people, and Soviet prisoners of war killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Observers say voters could well punish the SPD and CDU for sending them back to the polls early, while the far-right AfD and the surging Greens have the most to gain.

Visitors pictured walking across the barbed wire fences of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp yesterday.

Since becoming chancellor in 2005, Merkel has paid her respects at other Nazi concentration camps, and she has been five times to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum and memorial.

Merkel has called the Holocaust a "break with civilisation" and has voiced concern about the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany.

In 2008, she became the first German leader to address the Israeli parliament.

The stumble comes amid rising fears for the German Chancellor's well being after she has been seen shaking on three separate events throughout public engagements this yr.

Police figures show that anti-Semitic offences rose by nearly 10 percent in Germany last year from the previous year to 1,646 - the highest level in a decade.

German media reported that she wanted to make the trip ahead of any potential political crisis.

The German government announced that it would donate 60 million euros, or about $67 million, to the foundation.

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