German president: Buchenwald a reminder of Nazi ‘barbarism’

Frank-Walter Steinmeier marked the 76th anniversary of the concentration camp’s liberation by reminding his compatriots of the atrocities committed.

Germany Holocaust Buchenwald
Germany Holocaust Buchenwald

Germany’s president marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp on Sunday by reminding his compatriots of the inconceivable atrocities the Nazis committed there during the Third Reich.

“Communists and democrats, homosexuals and so-called asocials were incarcerated at Buchenwald. Jews, Sinti, and Roma were brought here and murdered,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a speech in the nearby German town of Weimar, 76 years to the day after US forces liberated the camp.

Germany Holocaust Buchenwald
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buendenbender walk through the entrance gate of the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp (Markus Schreiber/AP)

“With its diversity of victims’ groups, Buchenwald represents the entire barbarism of the Nazis, its aggressive nationalism to the outside, it’s dictatorship on the inside, and a racist way of thinking,” he said.

“Buchenwald stands for racial fanaticism, torture, murder and elimination.”

Holocaust survivors and their families were not allowed to gather for anniversary observances this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Survivors from different parts of the world instead attended Sunday’s memorial ceremony online.

Large-scale commemorations for last year’s 75th anniversary were put on hold due to social distancing requirements.

Germany Buchenwald Liberation
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeiner delivers a speech in Weimar commemorating the liberation of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camps (Ronny Hartmann/Pool/AP)

The Buchenwald concentration camp was established in 1937.

More than 56,000 of the 280,000 inmates held at Buchenwald and its satellite camps were killed by the Nazis or died as a result of hunger, illness or medical experiments before the camp’s liberation on April 11 1945.

“It was a dictatorship, a Nazi leadership that was responsible for the cruellest crimes and the genocide,” Mr Steinmeier said. “But it was human beings, Germans, who did this to other human beings.”

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