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'Holocaust commemoration part of Germany's national memory': Merkel

Speaking at the opening of a new exhibition, Chancellor Angela Merkel has emphasized the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. She said the Nazis' brutalities were part of Germany's common memory.

Merkel, who inaugurated the "Art from the Holocaust" exhibition on Monday in Berlin, said the works had a lot of "authenticity and originality" and that they afforded an insight into the unimaginable sufferings of Jewish prisoners before and during World War II.

The exhibition is displaying 100 works by Jewish prisoners who lived in concentration camps, work camps and ghettos during the Nazi regime. The works of art , mostly pictures housed at Israel's Yad Vashem memorial, are being shown in Germany for the first time.

Merkel described the exhibition as an "exemplary project of German-Israeli relations."

The cordial ties between Berlin and Tel Aviv

were not to be taken for granted, but to be seen as a "miracle," she said.

Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem's director, told the audience that only about half of the 50 artists exhibited in Berlin had survived the Holocaust. He called the works rare witnesses of history, serving as a spark of humanity among the gruesome crimes.

Ausstellung - Kunst aus dem Holocaust

Merkel spoke with Holocaust painter Nelly Toll, the only surviving artist

The works were also described as irreplaceable historical documents by Alexander Koch, president of Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum, the German historical museums foundation. The paintings showed "the strength of human spirit, the firmness of will and the freedom of art," he said.

The exhibition was initiated by Kai Diekmann, editor of German newspaper "Bild," who emphasized that there was no way anti-Semitism could have a place in the Germany of today. According to Diekmann, this was the true message of the works of art, which were created by people "in the darkest moment of history and the darkest time of their own lives."

The exhibition, which opens two days before

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

on Wednesday, runs until April 3.

mg/cmk (dpa, KNA, epd)

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