Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned hostility against Jews and other groups, saying Germans need to remain vigilant 70 years after the Nazi defeat in World War II.
In a speech Sunday marking the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp by U.S. troops in 1945, Merkel cited the Holocaust as well as terrorism such as the Paris attacks in January and recent assaults on rabbis in Germany.
“We are all called upon to make vitally clear that Jewish life is part of our identity, that discrimination, marginalization and anti-Semitism can have no place with us, that this has to be fought with all possible measures under the rule of law,” the chancellor said at the former Nazi camp near Munich at a ceremony attended by Dachau survivors.
Merkel’s speech marks the start of a week of remembrance of the Allied victory over Germany in World War II, culminating with her planned trip to Moscow on May 10 to join Russian President Vladimir Putin in honoring fallen soldiers. While Merkel, 60, is the first German chancellor born after the war, its echoes reverberate.
In her weekly podcast Saturday, she cited the debate in Greece about German responsibility for the Nazi occupation during World War II.
“One can’t draw the line on history,” Merkel said. “We see this in the discussion in Greece and also in other European countries. We Germans do have a special responsibility to deal in an aware, sensitive and knowledgeable way with what we perpetrated under Nazism.”
While voicing understanding for the “long-lasting wounds” caused by the Nazis across Europe, she declined to address Greek demands for war reparations and said the task facing European governments is to halt the rise in public debt.
Merkel’s government is ruling out further reparations for Greece, saying the matter was closed by Europe’s acceptance of the treaty that reunified East and West Germany in 1990 at the end of the Cold War.
Germany should nonetheless consider compensation for crimes committed by German soldiers during World War II, President Joachim Gauck was quoted as saying by Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
“It’s the right thing for a country like ours that is aware of its history to explore which possibilities of compensation there might be,” Gauck, whose post is mostly ceremonial, was quoted as saying in an interview.