The head of the European Parliament has implored Europeans to fight "the return of demons" and resurgent anti-Semitism. Martin Schulz issued his appeal 70 years after the liberation of the death camp Buchenwald.
Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat, told some 80 elderly survivors and numerous guests at a ceremony in Weimar on Sunday that Europe bowed before the 56,000 victims who died at Buchenwald in eastern Germany during World War II.
Schulz referred to resurgent racism in Europe, underscored by a jihadist attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January and a suspected neo-Nazi arson attack last week on a hostel intended for asylum-seekers in Tröglitz in eastern Germany.
Schulz said to honor the victims of Buchenwald, Europe needed to "fight the return of demons that we thought were overcome but which still show their ugly face - racism, anti-Semitism, ultra-nationalism and intolerance."
'Majority support refugees'
"We must not let agitators and arsonists believe a silent majority stands behind them," Schulz said, adding that "we, the majority, support refugees."
The president of the European Parliament issued his appeal in the National Theater in Weimar, near Buchenwald, in Germany's eastern state of Thuringia at a ceremony that culminated a weekend of events marking the death camp's liberation on April 11, 1945.
The US army found some 21,000 inmates, including 900 children, who had survived the Nazis' regime of forced labor, disease, exhaustion and criminal medical experiments.
In early 1945, Buchenwald had 110,000 inmates, making it the largest concentration camp operated within Germany by Adolf Hitler's National Socialists, or Nazis.
Thousands of Jews were among the dead, but also Roma, otherwise known as gypsies, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners of war and political opponents of the Nazis.
Between 1937 and 1945, a quarter of a million people were held at Buchenwald.
Oath still not fulfilled
The president of the International Buchenwald Committee, Bertrand Herz, appealed to youth around the world to continue the battle for human rights and against racism.
As long as repression prevailed in the world, an oath sworn in 1945 by Buchenwald survivors to struggle for freedoms had still not been fulfilled, Herz said.
Bodo Ramelow, Thuringia's Left party state premier, said during Sunday's commemorative event that American soldiers had found the "Apocalypse" when they open the gates to Buchenwald.
Weimar was liberated a day later.
As a legacy for Buchenwald's dead and its survivors, the acceptance of refugees from current conflict zones was a humanitarian obligation and a Christian duty, Ramelow said.
Two months after Auschwitz
Buchenwald's liberation in 1945 came two months after Soviet troops freed survivors at Auschwitz in what had been Nazi-occupied Poland.
Allied troops went on in April 1945 to liberate the death camps of Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen, Dachau and Ravensbrück.
ipj/rc (epd, Reuters, dpa)