“Especially for young people, it is important to understand what made the Holocaust—this transgression of civilization—possible,” said the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, turning to the younger generations said, “Although you truly bear no fault, you are nevertheless responsible.” He asked that high school students be obliged to visit the memorial site of the Dachau concentration camp.
The celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp began on April 29th. Approximately 1,500 people from Poland and Germany, including 40 Polish bishops, priests and seminarians, participated. In the chapel “Mortal Fear of Christ,” a Mass was presided over by the presidents of the Polish and German Episcopates, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki and Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
The concentration camp of Dachau was one of the first Nazi camps and the only one that existed throughout the entire 12-year reign of the regime (1933-1945). In the course of those 12 years, more than 200,000 people, from 40 countries under German occupation, were imprisoned at Dachau and in “affiliated” camps. 148,802 prisoners (including approximately 28,000 Poles and 13,000 Jews) were murdered there. Nearly 67,000 survivors were liberated in just a few hours on April 29th, 1945, by US troops.
Dachau served as the main camp for clergy from Christian churches (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox). According to the estimates of the Catholic Church, approximately 3,000 Catholic religious, deacons, priests and bishops (among them about 1,780 from Poland) were sent to Dachau. The Nazis murdered 1,034 members of the clergy, including 868 Poles.