May 3 marks the 70th anniversary of Dachau survivors' liberation from Nazis. Chancellor Angela Merkel advises Germans to never forget the past and to avoid discrimination now.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded audience that Germans must never forget the horrors of the concentrations camps and the atrocities committed within national borders.
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May 3 marks the 70-year anniversary of Dachau concentration camp's liberation. Joined by survivors of the concentration, the politician thanked the open willing to tell about the terrifying ordeal of the camp. Of a life where value ceased the moment someone was identified as non-Aryan, non-ideal.
According to Deutsche Welle, a rising tide of discrimination is beginning to grip the nation, the CDU leader warns against the action. The latest victims are immigrants looking for asylum after surviving heartache, but the lessons of the past should not be forgotten as the world reaches out in globalization.
“It is very fortunate that people like you are willing to tell your life stories, about the unending suffering that Germany inflicted on you during the era of National Socialism," pronounced Merkel. Adding that “attacks and hate speech are aimed against human dignity, and thus also at the basic order of a free society."
Dachau marks the first example of the misery to come, the learning tool of cruelty. Located in Bavaria, visitors travel through the gates and walk about seven decades in the past to see the misery in action. Individuals face how degrading and brutal life was for those locked away and unable to receive help.
Dachau Camp Community President Max Mannheimer noted that “from commemoration there must also emerge a consciousness of responsibility.”
Walking among the ruins, seeing the impact of such savage hate, forces tourists to witness what those targeted faced every day. The names of murdered victims along walks in Cyrillic and Latin, signs of trying to survive and live while knowing rescue may never come, as they faced execution in a line.
Started as a political prisoners camp, Nazis repurposed the grounds to house Jewish people of faith, foreign nationals, and those deemed lesser for any number of reasons. And even though people are no longer openly killed like in Hitler’s reign, it is hard to run away from the very real devastation.
Officially released on April 29 by U.S. Army troops, the survivors gathered together several days later on May 1 to commemorate the end of pain and of a returning hope of freedom. Merkel backed Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s speech at the anniversary of Sachsenhausen.
One day before on May 2, 1945, World War II ended with a swift and definitive end. Before the end of the war, however, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was permanently closed and survivors discussed enduring the pain on April 19, 2015.
“The crimes of the National Socialist regime are without parallel. They make us shudder. The murder of millions of Europe’s Jews, the crime against humanity that was the Shoah,” said Steinmeier.
“The murder and persecution of Roma and Sinti, of homosexuals, of people with disabilities, of political activists, of people who thought differently, looked differently, prayed differently and acted differently than what the National Socialists dictated.”
In acknowledging the utter lack of humanity and empathy shown to concentration camp victims, the truth must not be buried in the annals of time, nor forgotten. “You, ladies and gentlemen, experienced the unimaginable – humiliation, hunger and loss – first hand. The mortal fear that Saul Oren so vividly describes.”
As the generation begins to pass away and in person first-hand accounts transform into textbook examples, the German government wants the public to never let the actions happen again. The nation's laws are strict on overt and obvious anti-Antisemitism, which appeals younger, displaced Jewish members to return.
However, Merkel also noted that laws do not equal protection, which is still required in the current EU landscape. Progress doesn't not equal utopia.
The official camp site notes that Merkel is the first in office chancellor to openly bear witness to the pain by the victims, who have only been asked to speak and join in the moment of silence and respect for the past 20 years.
Steinmeier expressed the gratitude in allowing the pain to keep needling, the level in personal strength for surviving such horrific conditions. “We bow our heads before you. And we are grateful to you for reminding us of our obligation to never again allow such injustice. Never again.”
And in a speech in Berlin on May 2, Steimeier reiterated that "it is precisely we, perhaps even more than others, who must today take on the responsibility for the preservation of a peacekeeping order."
And that includes not allowing victims of other regimes to fall to the side as the world looks to find better solutions. After 70 years, the world's capabiltites are much stronger in maintaining peace and saving lives--especially those in the Mediterranean dying as boats and governments collapse in equal number.
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Sources: Dachau, Deutsche Welle, Federal Foreign Office