Oswiecim, 6 December 2019 (dpa/MIA) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on Friday, her first visit of the Holocaust memorial site.
Merkel arrives in Oswiecim, dubbed Auschwitz by its wartime German occupiers, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which charges itself with the preservation of the site. Germany is the foundation’s largest donor.
The chancellor, along with her Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, will first visit the main Auschwitz concentration camp, arriving through the infamous “Arbeit macht frei” gate and holding a minute’s silence by the so-called Death Wall, where thousands of prisoners were shot.
Subsequently, Merkel will give a speech at the former German extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, before paying tribute to the victims, alongside Morawiecki, in front of a monument erected between the ruins of the two of the former camp’s largest gas chambers.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is regarded as an important international reminder of the Holocaust. According to estimates, more than one million people, most of whom were Jews, died there before the Soviet Red Army liberated the camp in 1945.
The Nazis and their accomplices murdered a total of around 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.
As part of a joint resolution discussed at a conference with Germany’s 16 state premiers on last week, the German federal government and states plan to provide an additional 60 million euros to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation for the preservation of the memorial.