“Perhaps Haltern has also become an example of how people can show community despite such a terribly sad situation,” Merkel said during her visit to the town on the edge of the Ruhr area of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The Chancellor appeared deeply affected by her conversation with classmates and relations of those who died in the plane crash, in which 150 people were killed after the copilot deliberately crashed the plane into the Alps on a flight from Düsseldorf to Barcelona.
The children and teachers were on their way home from a stay in a town in southern Spain where they had been on a language-learning exchange.
'Germany continues to think of you'
Merkel said that it first became clear to her as she stood before the memorial plaque how much love and empathy the school had put into dealing with the tragedy and to put it behind its members.
No one would ever be able to answer the question of why the town had been so bereaved, Merkel said.
“What I am taking away with me is that I have the feeling that you're trying together to put this behind you,” she added.
“I want to make it clear that I am thinking of you, that the government thinks of you, but also that many other people in Germany continue to think of you.”