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Pence visits Dachau concentration camp

February 19, 2017

The US vice president paid tribute to victims of the Holocaust in a visit to the Dachau memorial site. The trip took on an added dimension after President Trump's exchange with a Jewish reporter about anti-Semitism.

Deutschland Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz 2017 Pence Besuch KZ Dachau
Image: Reuters/M. Dalder

US Vice President Mike Pence visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial site on Sunday, just days after his boss took flack for a bizarre response to a Jewish reporter's question about anti-Semitism in the United States.

Pence was in Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference, as part of a campaign to assuage allies worried about US President Donald Trump's attitude towards defense cooperation.

"Moving and emotional tour of Dachau today," he wrote on Twitter. "We can never forget atrocities against Jews and others in the Holocaust."

The vice president visited the memorial alongside his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte. They placed a wreath in the center of the camp and attended an on-site church service in honor of the 40,000 people who were killed and 200,000 imprisoned at the camp near Munich. They also met with survivor Abba Naor, who described the horrors of life in the camp to the Pence family.

Trump accosts Hasidic reporter

Pence's visit had added urgency, however, as it came amidst concerns of increasing anti-Semitism in the United States. Some 58 Jewish community centers have received at least 60 bomb threats in the past two months, and leaders have voiced concerns that Trump's nationalistic campaign rhetoric has emboldened white supremacists. Reports of other anti-Semitic incidents like swastika graffiti in schools and bullying have also been widespread.

When asked about the incidents during his first solo press conference at president this past week, Trump first avoided the question and then became angry at Jake Turx, a Hasidic Jewish reporter working for Brooklyn-based Jewish magazine Ami.

Turx prefaced his question by saying, "I have not seen anyone in my community accuse either yourself or anyone of your staff of being anti-Semitic." He then asked how the administration planned to address concerns the Jewish community had about violence and hate speech.

Before Turx has finished speaking, Trump interrupted him and told him to sit down, saying his question was "very insulting."

"Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life," Trump then said. "Number two, racism. The least racist person." He also called the reporter a liar during the tense exchange.

Later on Twitter, Turx wrote: "President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I'm going to seek clarification."

The Trump administration was also criticized for issuing a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention the murder of 6 million Jews.

es/sms (AFP, dpa)