Merkel to visit Dachau memorial, a first for German head of state

BERLIN (JTA) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be the first German head of state to visit the concentration camp memorial at Dachau.

Merkel will deliver a speech at the annual public festival in the city of Dachau on Aug. 20, and is making it a point to visit the memorial there, according to her spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

The German media have noted that her political mentor, the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, did not visit the memorial when he addressed the 1990 town festival, which is held in a large beer tent.

Merkel, who is campaigning for her the reelection of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, in September, will be speaking to some 3,800 guests after her visit to the memorial, according to the German news agency dpa.

Dachau, which was established in March 1933, was the first regular concentration camp established by the National Socialist government, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Of the more than 188,000 prisoners incarcerated there and in its subcamps between 1933 and 1945, at least 28,000 died. Historians say the exact number of deaths may never be known.