Germany must remember its past, foreign minister says at Sachsenhausen ceremony

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Germany must remember its past and “stand against injustice, against any form of xenophobia and discrimination,” its foreign minister said at the former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier laid down the challenge at a ceremony marking 70 years since the liberation of the camp, near Berlin, where tens of thousands of Jews and other inmates died during World War II.

“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?” Steinmeier asked, according to the French news agency AFP.

More than 200,000 people were incarcerated in Sachsenhausen. Some 3,000 were still alive when the camp was liberated on April 22-23, 1945.

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The tens of thousands who died were killed by starvation, disease, forced labor and a death march.

“The crimes of the Nazi regime are without equal,” Steinmeier said. “They make us shudder — the murder of millions of Jews in Europe, the crime against humanity that is the Shoah.”

He praised the “deep friendship” between Israel and Germany and the “flowering of Jewish life” in Germany, AFP reported.

A second ceremony was held Sunday at the Ravensbruck concentration camp located near Berlin, where more than 27,000 people, mostly women, died.