Auschwitz was German camp, we have to stress it: German Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrived on Friday morning at the former Nazi-German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau to mark the 10th anniversary of establishing the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

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The foundation finances the conservation of historic structures and Germany has so far transferred PLN 60 mln (EUR 14 mln) to an endowment fund managed by the foundation.

Both leaders laid wreaths of roses in the national colours of Poland and Germany at the Death Wall at the courtyard of Block 11. They paid respects to all murdered in the German camp.

They also saw possessions taken from the Jews deported from European countries. These are shoes, clothes, glasses, kitchen pots, suitcases and praying robes.

After that, they went to the former Auschwitz-II camp, where the massive genocide of Jews took place. This is also the symbol of the martyrdom of Poles and Roma.

There, the observances of the 10th anniversary of establishing the Foundation took place. Among those who gave spoke were Mr Morawiecki, Ms Merkel and a former prisoner Bogdan Bartnikowski. Moreover, Polish president Andrzej Duda sent a letter to the participants of the event, which was read out by one of his aides, Wojciech Kolarski.

“The justice for the victims requires remembrance, compensation is the element of justice,” the Polish PM said. “We are obliged to cultivate this remembrance,” he said.

“I feel very ashamed standing here when I look at the barbaric crimes committed here by Germans. We have to remember about them,” Ms Merkel said.

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“Oświęcim (Auschwitz) is in Poland, but in 1939 it was annexed into the German Reich. Auschwitz was a German death camp managed by Germans, it is important to stress it, to clearly point out the perpetrators,” the German Chancellor said.

“What happened here was incomprehensible to the human mind. Every single person murdered here had their dignity and history,” the German Chancellor said.

Ms Merkel declared that Germany will “contribute to increasing the capital of the foundation taking care of the Auschwitz camp.”

Angela Merkel is the third German Chancellor to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, after Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl.

The Nazi Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940, initially for the imprisonment of Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was established two years later and became the main site for the mass extermination of Jews.

There was also a network of sub-camps in the complex. The Germans killed at least 1.1 mln people at Auschwitz, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

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