Nazi Camp: Merkel Visits Dachau Where Over 40,000 Prisoners Were Killed
Chancellor Angela Merkel drew criticism for visiting Dachau concentration camp during her election campaign.
She was the first incumbent German chancellor to visit the site, and she did so only hours ahead of an evening election rally in a beer tent in Munich.
“I know that this will not be an easy visit,” she said in her weekly podcast ahead of the trip. The visit would be conducted with a sense of “shame and dismay,” she said.
Opposition politicians heavily criticized the Merkel’s Nazi camp visit, saying that the closeness of the somber event so closely followed by a beer tent election rally was “tasteless.”
However, some argue that visiting a former concentration camp would be unlikely to win her additional support from German voters.
Michael Wolffsohn, a historian at the German Bundeswehr University told NBC News, “It is difficult to draw much enthusiasm in this country with policy on (German) history, particularly in relation to National Socialism,”
“Election campaign topics in Germany are soft, soft, soft,” Wolffsohn added.
Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, director of the Dachau commemoration site said, “The chancellor is making good for the necessary attention that her predecessors neglected in the past.”
The Nazis opened Dachau as a concentration camp for political prisoners on March 22, 1933. Frequently described as “the school of violence,” Dachau functioned as a model for other Nazi concentration camps across Europe.
More than 200,000 people from across Europe were imprisoned there. It started out as a prison mainly for German communists, trade unionists, and other political opponents of the Nazi regime.
Later, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, and homosexuals were also imprisoned and killed there. In total, more than 41,500 people were killed or died in captivity.
Dachau, the Nazi camp Merkel visited, was liberated by US troops in early 1945.