Krakow, Poland – German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay her first official visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau on Friday, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp.
On December 6, Angela Merkel is due to visit the death camp for the first time in her 14 years in office, at the invitation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, an organization set up ten years ago by former Polish Foreign Minister and ex-Auschwitz inmate Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.
The information was first revealed by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, before being confirmed by the chancellor’s spokesman. Although having never been to Auschwitz, Nazi Germany’s biggest concentration camp, Merkel visited other death camps since coming to power in 2005, including Buchenwald and Dachau.
Merkel’s visit will be marked by a minute of silence in front of the so-called Black Wall, where prisoners and inmates were executed by Third Reich soldiers, followed by a speech and the laying of a wreath to pay homage to the countless victims who died between the walls of a camp that became the symbol of the Holocaust and the Third Reich’s ‘final solution’.
After Helmut Schmidt in 1977 and Helmut Kohl in 1995, Angela Merkel will be the third German chancellor to visit the Nazi death camp, installed in then-occupied Poland some 60 kilometers west of Krakow.
Poland‘s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is also scheduled to attend the event, held ahead of the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Red Army Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945.
According to official estimates, more than one million Jews died in Auschwitz-Birkenau from 1940 to 1945, as well as over 100,000 non-Jewish inmates and war prisoners.