Dignitaries from around the world gathered on Friday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nazi conference that planned the systematic murder of millions of Jews during World War II.
Friday's ceremony was held at the villa on the Wannsee lake on the outskirts of Berlin, which is now a Holocaust memorial. It was there that 15 senior Nazi officials adopted the "Final Solution" on January 20, 1942 - a plan approving the organizational details of how to register and transport Jews from across Europe to be killed in concentration camps.
President Christian Wulff referred to the plan as the "darkest chapter of German history" and called the memorial site, which opened as a museum in 1992, "a place of German shame." He assured visiting dignitaries, including Israeli minister without portfolio Yossi Peled, that modern Germany would come to the aid of Jews worldwide if they were facing persecution.
Referring to the recent discovery of xenophobic crimes in Germany, Wulff promised that hatred towards foreigners would not be allowed to take root.
In November it emerged that a neo-Nazi gang may have been behind the unsolved murders of 10 people, mainly shopkeepers of Turkish origin, between 2000 and 2007.
The president called for those who supported and helped the group to be found and brought to justice, and promised the victims' families that German authorities would "do everything so that terror and murderous hatred for foreigners and the unknown never again have a place in Germany."
Author: Rina Goldenberg (dpa, AFP, AP)
Editor: Andrew Bowen