German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes first official visit to Auschwitz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her first visit Friday to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp as the nation’s leader Friday, saying the world must remain ever-vigilant against anti-Semitism.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (second from left) and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (second from right) visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Oswiecim, Poland, on Friday. Photo by Lukasz Gagulski

Merkel was accompanied on the visit to the notorious concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation leader Piotr Cywinski as well as former prisoners and members of several Jewish organizations.

The German leader made a stop at the Death Wall in the Auschwitz portion of the site, where Nazi soldiers executed thousands, most of whom were Polish political prisoners. She later delivered remarks at a monument erected on the spot of the Birkenau gas chambers, asserting “we must never forget” the Holocaust.

Merkel denounced the anti-Semitism of modern Holocaust deniers, citing the late Italian Jewish chemist, author and Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi who said, “It happened, and it can happen again.”

“We are experiencing an attack on the fundamental values of liberal democracy, and a very dangerous historical revisionism that serves a hostility that is directed against specific groups,” she said. “We are focusing our attention especially on anti-Semitism, which poses a great threat to Jewish life in Germany, in Europe and beyond.

“We have to state clearly and unequivocally we will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism.”

ByDon Jacobson