Report: German Leader Angela Merkel to Make First Auschwitz Visit

The gates of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland, circa 1965. The sign above them is 'Arbeit Macht Frei' - 'Work Makes You Free'. (Photo by Keystone/GettyImages)
Keystone/Getty

For the first time during her 14 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning next month to visit the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.

The Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday that Merkel has accepted an invitation to attend the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation on Dec. 6.

The foundation was set up in 2009 by former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, himself a one-time Auschwitz prisoner, as a permanent legacy to those who suffered and died there.

Merkel’s office confirmed a visit is planned but declined to specify the date as her appointments are generally announced only a week in advance.

Last month, the World Jewish Congress gave Merkel its Theodor Herzl Award for her efforts to foster Jewish life in Germany and her support for the state of Israel.

Nazi Germany killed more than 1 million people at Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland during World War II, most of them Jews transported there from across Europe.

Deutsche Welle reports Merkel would only become the third post-war German chancellor to visit the former concentration camp, after ex-Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl.

Since she became leader in 2005, Merkel has gone to other such sites in places like Dachau and Buchenwald. The chancellor has also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem four times during her time in office.

Earlier this year the first-ever U.S. government delegation to the March of the Living annual Holocaust memorial arrived at Auschwitz, bringing several ambassadors and envoys in a show of solidarity against Europe’s growing antisemitism.

As Breitbart News reported, that delegation included U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, and Ambassador to the Holy See Calista Gingrich, among many other ambassadors.

AP contributed to this story

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