Germany’s foreign minister warns against racism and xenophobia, at a ceremony marking 70 years since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen near Berlin.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier joins Holocaust survivors and other guests at the site which was built while Hitler celebrated the 1936 Olympic Games, and where tens of thousands of Jews and other inmates died.
Steinmeier says Germany had an enduring responsibility not to forget its horrific past, which meant it must “stand against injustice, against any form of xenophobia and discrimination.”
“Do we want to live in a country where there is still anti-Semitism and exclusion? Where asylum homes are set on fire? Where a young man is beaten up on a Berlin subway because he is a Jew?” asks Steinmeier.
“A country where people take to the streets in packs to rant dull slogans against anything they see as foreign? Is that our country?… This is not the open country which the vast majority of Germans want.”
Steinmeier says Sachsenhausen, 35 kilometers (20 miles) north of the capital, “exemplifies the monstrosity of a regime that institutionalized horror,” according to a copy of his speech sent to AFP.
“The crimes of the Nazi regime are without equal,” the minister said. “They make us shudder — the murder of millions of Jews in Europe, the crime against humanity that is the Shoah.
Steinmeier says that, in view of such horrors, it “seems like a miracle” that Germany and Israel now have a “deep friendship,” marked by 50 years of diplomatic ties and a renewed “flowering of Jewish life” in Germany.