German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay a visit to the former Nazi concentration camps in Auschwitz on December 6, Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday.
Merkel has accepted an invitation to participate in the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, the paper said. The foundation was set up in 2009 by former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, himself a one-time Auschwitz prisoner.
At Auschwitz, Merkel is expected to participate in a ceremony and visit the site's main death camp.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest Nazi death camp during World War II. About 1.1 million were killed at the site, most of them Jews. Some 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Sinti and Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers also met their death there.
The camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place every year on January 27 to mark the liberation.
Merkel will become the third post-war German chancellor to visit the former concentration camp, after ex-Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl.
Since she became chancellor in 2005, Merkel has paid several visits to other such sites at places such as Dachau and Buchenwald. The chancellor has also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem four times during her time in office.
News of Merkel's Auschwitz trip comes at a time when anti-Semitic prejudice and violence have been on the rise in the European Union, with a number of deadly attacks on Jewish schools, institutions and places of worship in recent years.
In Germany, the number of anti-Semitic attacks increased by over 10% from 2017 to 2018, which has prompted many Jews living in the country to consider emigrating. According to official figures, the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed increased from 1,504 in 2017 to 1,646 in 2018. The number of cases considered violent increased from 37 to 62 over the same period.
sri/rt (dpa, kna, AFP)