German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Auschwitz for the first time on 6 December, a government spokesperson announced on Friday.
The visit will take place ahead of the celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camp in present-day Poland.
Chancellor Merkel will be the first German head of government in 24 years to visit the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where close to a million Jewish people were murdered. The visit comes in response to an invitation from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, said spokesperson Ulrike Demmer.
Merkel, accompanied by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, will observe one minute’s silence in front of the Wall of Death in the main camp at Auschwitz, where thousands of detainees were shot dead, Demmer explained. She will then go to the Birkenau extermination camp, where she will give an address before laying a wreath of flowers.
The Chancellor previously visited Buchenwald and Dachau camps in Germany. She will only be the third German head of state to go to Auschwitz since the end of World War II.
Helmut Schmidt’s visit to Auschwitz 32 years after the Red Army liberated it on 27 January 1945 was the first by a German chancellor after the war. Helmut Kohl later visited the camp twice, in 1989 and 1995.