"Naturally, we have an everlasting responsibility for the crimes of national-socialism, for the victims of World War II, and above all, for the Holocaust," Merkel said in a podcast on her website.
Her remarks came as the world prepared to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday, the date in 1945 when the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in then occupied Poland.
In another significant date, Wednesday will mark eight decades since Hitler was appointed chancellor on January 30, 1933 by then president Paul von Hindenburg.
"We must clearly say, generation after generation, and say it again: with courage, civil courage, each individual can help ensure that racism and anti-Semitism have no chance," Merkel added.
"We're facing our history, we're not hiding anything, we're not repressing anything. We must confront this to make sure we are a good and trustworthy partner in the future, as we already are today, thankfully," she said.