Merkel Visits Nazi Camp, Then Beer Tent

Historic visit followed by campaign rally, doesn't sit well with some

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 21, 2013 12:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – Angela Merkel made history yesterday by becoming the first German chancellor to visit the site of Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than 41,000 people died ... and then she promptly and unfortunately retired to a beer tent for a re-election campaign rally. The two events were separated by about 15 minutes, the Christian Science Monitor reports; the beer tent, where Merkel gave a political speech and appeared onstage with a lederhosen-clad brass band, was located in the town of Dachau. Political opponents, of course, slammed what one referred to as a "tasteless and outrageous combination," the BBC reports. "If you're serious about commemoration at such a place of horrors, then you don't pay such a visit during an election campaign," says one opposition leader.

Merkel had been invited to the camp by the head of the Dachau survivor group, a 93-year-old former inmate who was liberated by American soldiers in 1945, the AP reports. She laid a wreath at the site, saying the camp "fills me with deep sadness and shame" and stands for "a horrible and unprecedented chapter of our history." But it can also serve as a warning, she noted: "How did Germany reach the point of taking away the right of people to live because of their origin, their religion ... or their sexual orientation?"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a wreath laying ceremony during her visit to the concentration camp Dachau in southern Germany, on Tuesday, Aug.20, 2013.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a wreath laying ceremony during her visit to the concentration camp Dachau in southern Germany, on Tuesday, Aug.20, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
German chancellor Angela Merkel walks to a wreath-laying ceremony during her visit to the  former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, southern Germany, on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.
German chancellor Angela Merkel walks to a wreath-laying ceremony during her visit to the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, southern Germany, on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/dpa, Peter Kneffel)
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