Germany commemorates victims of Nazism
Published: 27 Jan 2014 15:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Jan 2014 15:11 GMT+01:00
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A ceremony at the site of the Nazis' most notorious death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was attended by 61 MPs from the Israeli parliament and German politicians.
The Israeli MPs will also discuss on Monday night modern anti-Semitism with their German counterparts in Krakow, Poland.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, a memorial ceremony was held in Parliament (the Bundestag) and President Joachim Gauck wrote a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to apologize for the suffering inflicted by German troops.
After an hour of remembrance in the Bundestag, participants in the international youth congress - which takes place every year in memory of the victims of the Nazi regime - met for a discussion with 95-year-old Russian author Daniil Granin, who survived the siege of Leningrad in 1944, and Bundestag president Norbert Lammert.
Parliament's hour of remembrance has taken place annually since 1996.
The vice president of the Bundestag Ulla Schmidt also opened an exhibition in Berlin called “Seized, persecuted, destroyed: Sick and disabled people under National Socialism.”
The exhibition focuses on Nazi violence against disabled people and the long-term ill and will run until February 28th.
The Israeli ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman publicly called for collective remembrance in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost on Monday.
"The Holocaust is a tragedy for all of humanity," he said. “It [the commemoration] reinforces our efforts to make sure nothing like it can ever happen again."
In his letter to Putin, President Gauck said he thought of “Nazi Germany’s war of extermination against the Soviet Union” with deep sadness and shame.
"Germany is aware of its historical responsibility for the harm that was done to the inhabitants of Leningrad,” he wrote. “I say to you and your people - we share the pain of the victims and we feel with the survivors who still suffer from the consequences of war.”
Gauck added: “The massive scale of human suffering still stuns us.”