Merkel’s warning to Germans
After 14 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has finally visited Auschwitz, said Nico Fried. Merkel has made official visits to other Nazi death camps and she has traveled to the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem four times. But it wasn’t until earlier this month that she laid a wreath at Auschwitz, where more than 1 million Jews died in the Holocaust. There, she announced Germany’s second gift of $67 million to maintain the memorial. “Remembering the crime, naming the perpetrators, and honoring the victims with dignity is our responsibility,” said Merkel, who will leave office in 2021. “Being aware of this responsibility is at the heart of our national identity.” These are strong words for Germans to hear, and they are more necessary now that “racism, hatred, and historical revisionism are spreading again.” In June, a neo-Nazi killed German politician Walter Lübcke; in September, a white supremacist tried to massacre Jews in a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, killing two bystanders when he couldn’t get into the building. A survey this year found that 27 percent of Germans hold anti-Semitic beliefs, while 41 percent think Jews talk about the Holocaust too much. It’s “never the wrong time” for a German leader to visit Auschwitz—but now was especially timely.