More than 1,000 survivors of the Nazi concentration camp Dachau marked the 60th anniversary of their liberation Sunday with US army veterans who threw open the gates.
Recalling the horrors
"This ceremony inevitably stirs up deep emotions in the former prisoners," General Andre Delpech, a French Dachau survivor, told the assembled guests gathered at the former camp under bright spring sunshine. He said Sunday's commemoration would be the last for many of the aging survivors, who he said had attended "so that this memory would not be forgotten or lost to indifference."
The archbishop of the Bavarian state capital Munich, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, said that "human dignity had been trampled underfoot" at Dachau, which was built in 1933 -- the same year Adolf Hitler rose to power.
Victims of Dachau
On April 29, 1945 -- nine days before the German surrender in World War II -- US soldiers arrived at the Dachau camp northwest of Munich to find a scene of horror. Piles of corpses lay in cattle trucks while starving prisoners were almost too weak to acknowledge their salvation.
Between 1933 and 1945, more than 200,000 people from 38 countries and across the religious and political spectrum were held by the Nazis under appalling conditions. At least 30,000 people were killed, starved or died of disease.
Orthodox Jews barred
Sunday's ceremony was marred by complaints by a German-Jewish group that it was held during the Jewish holiday Passover. Jewish law prohibits driving, riding in a car or leaving one's town during the holiday, which ends at sunset Sunday, meaning that several survivors were unable to attend.
A national memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Nazis is due to open in central Berlin on May 10, two days after the 60th anniversary of Germany's capitulation.