Louise Osborne in Berlin | The Guardian, Tuesday 20 August 2013

Angela Merkel became the first German leader to walk through the imposing steel gates marking the entrance to Germany’s original concentration camp in Dachau on Tuesday, touring the memorial as controversy continued to rage over the timing of the historic visit during her election campaign.

“For me this is a very special moment,” said the chancellor at the camp, according to a DPA report. “The memory of the fate [of these victims] fills me with deep sorrow and shame.”

The German leader laid a wreath at the camp in memory of more than 41,000 people, mostly Jews, who died at its satellite sites between 1933 and 1945, and met with survivors, including 93-year-old Max Mannheimer, chairman of the Dachau camp community association, who was imprisoned at Dachau in 1944 at the age of 24.

Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, said the visit was a “very strong and important symbol”.

“There are several concentration camps, like Auschwitz, abroad, and for decades chancellors and German presidents have been travelling to these places of horrible German crimes and taking historical responsibility,” she said… read more