Dear Mr. Minister Spaenle, dear Mr.Freller,
dear Mrs. Hammerman, dear Mr. Dietz de Loos,
dear Mr. Mannheimer, dear survivors,
dear Lady Knobloch, dear Gerda Hasselfeldt,
dear representatives of the Bavarian Landtag,
ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your invitation to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp.We all associate with these buildings a terrible precedent and inhuman chapter of German history. But you, dear Mr. Mannheimer, and the other survivors among us that have had to experience the horror yourself. For you deprivation and persecution, hunger and disease, violence and terror, even arbitrary killing was once your everyday bitter life. For me it is a very moving moment to meet with you and other witnesses and families of victims in this place. I would like to thank all of you that you have come. I know that it takes a lot of strenght every time, go back to where you or your loved ones have suffered so much. Such a deep pain resonates for a lifetime . At the same time it remains connected with its stone ruins. It ties in with the concept of memorials like this. They reach not only the mind but also the emotions of the visitors. So what once happened in these places, again draws impressively near. The origins of the Dachau concentration camp are 80 years back. At the beginning of 1933, the Nazis took power in Germany. They immediately began to persecute political opponents, Jews, Gypsies, the disabled and homosexuals. The first concentration camps emerged. Among them was the Dachau concentration camp. The name Dachau gained notoriety. For Dachau served as a model for the concentration camp system, that the Nazi machinery of persecution in Germany has supported up to the cruel rupture of civilization,the Shoah. As the only concentration camp, continued to exist throughout the period of National Socialism. In total, more than 200,000 prisoners were in Dachau or in its satellite camps. Approximately 41,500 were killed here. On 29 April 1945, American troops liberated the survivors. Every prisoner - whether from Dachau or any other concentration camps - had of course a very personal life story that was broken cruel or even erased. The memory of these stories filled me with deep sorrow and shame.
At the same time places like the Dachau concentration camp memorial are a empathic reminder of: How did it come so far in Germany that people because of their ethnicity, religion, political beliefs or sexual orientation were deprived of their human dignity and the right to live, and the vast majority of Germans did not take action against it, or at least allowed it to happen? Places like this help remind everyone that such a thing never happens again, that never again indifferent shrug or even applause clapping is allowed if people are discriminated against, harassed, persecuted and at the end, must unprotected fear for life and limb.
This is the permanent responsibility for us Germans that arises from what has happened, This is also one reason why we promote facilities that commemorate the victims and remember the crimes of Germany in the time of National Socialism. We strongly oppose any form of anti-Semitism, racism and right-wing extremism and support and encourage civil courage and volunteerism.. We know from what happened: The memory must be passed on from generation to generation. Young people need to know what suffering is caused by Germany. They must learn how to confront extremist tendencies. Also they who are young today must pass it on later to their children and grandchildren.
Dear Mr. Mannheimer, as a survivor of the Holocaust, you bear witness to the horrors of Nazism. Your concern has always been - and I quote: "from the mists of history to build bridges of reconciliation and rapprochement, to strengthen democracy and to combat anti-Semitism and racism."
Many witnesses and survivors have done likewise, or do it well stricken in years until today. I feel a sincere respect that you do this for us so we would not experience these horrors. I am very grateful to you. Therefore, it is my great honor that you visit together with me the Dachau Concentration Camp. I thank you for that, because I know that it is anything but self-evident. It is a bridge of the story in the present, we want to continue to build in the future.
Thank you for allowing me to be here today.