Queen Elizabeth II first British monarch to visit a Nazi death camp | News | DW | 26.06.2015
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Queen Elizabeth II first British monarch to visit a Nazi death camp

The queen wrapped up her official visit to Germany with a trip to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She met with survivors of the only camp liberated by the British army.

Queen Elizabeth II visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on Friday morning on the last day of her three-day state visit to Germany, which began in Berlin on Wednesday with an official reception and continued in Frankfurt in Thursday, where ecstatic crowds waited for hours to get a glimpse of the monarch as she made her tour around the city.

The reaction Thursday was a positive contrast to the queen's awkward moment at her reception on Wednesday, when German President Joachim Gauck presented her with a painting based on a photograph of herself from 1930, wherein she is sitting on a horse and her father, George VI, is holding the reins.

Elizabeth was perplexed by the work, noting that blue was a "funny color for a horse," and pointing to one figure in the painting, asking Gauck "is that supposed to be my father?"

Historic first visit

The trip to Bergen-Belsen in the German state of Lower Saxony, north of the city of Hanover, marked the first time a British monarch has visited a concentration camp.

Grabstein Anne und Margot Frank

15-year-old Anne Frank and her 19-year-old sister Margot presumably died of typhus only a few weeks before British soldiers liberated the camp.

Bergen-Belsen was the only Nazi concentration camp liberated by the British. Queen Elizabeth laid a wreath for the dead and visited a special memorial to the diarist Anne Frank, who died at the camp, and her sister Margot.

She then met with a group of survivors and liberators, as well as representatives of religious communities.

The trip to the camp was an important one for a royal family that has had a few scandals relating to Nazism in the past - the queen's uncle, Edward VIII, who abdicated in favor of his brother in 1936 after less than a year as king, was privately accused of harboring Nazi sympathies before World War II. The queen's grandson, Prince Harry, also caused a stir in 2005 when he wore a swastika armband and a brown uniform to a costume party.

The prince promptly apologized for the incident.

Following the trip to Bergen-Belsen, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, will return to Great Britain on Friday evening. This was the queen's fifth state visit to Germany, her last one coming over a decade ago in 2004.

es/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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