Remembering the unfathomable

75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Remembering the unfathomable

On 27 January 1945 Red Army troops liberated some 7,000 prisoners from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. More than one million people were killed in Auschwitz alone, victims of the crimes of the National Socialists. Even 75 years later it is Germany’s duty to keep alive the memories of the victims of these atrocities, declared Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters.

A stone bearing the inscription "Auschwitz"

Auschwitz - synonymous with the horrific scale of the Nazi crimes against humanity

Photo: picture-alliance/dpa

Germany must never again become a country in which hatred and rabble-rousing directed against minorities are met with silence on the part of the majority, warned Monika Grütters. "We must make this clear time and time again to a broad audience."

The open and unsparing way Germany addresses the crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi period and the resulting broad social consensus regarding Germany’s responsibility are today "one of the hard-won moral achievements of our country".

Federal government supports work of memorial sites

In particular, the authentic places where countless crimes were perpetrated keep alive the memories of the unfathomable, continued Monika Grütters. That is why Germany’s federal government institutionally supports the work of the many memorial sites across the country. In 2020 financial support will top 26.2 million euros. As compared to the start of this legislative period in 2017, funds to promote the work of memorial sites has thus increased by 20 per cent.

To ensure that as many of the surviving former concentration camp prisoners as possible were able to take part in memorial events in Germany to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, along with their families, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media provided an additional 1.2 million euros.

"Jugend erinnert" (young people remember)

Under the "Jugend erinnert" (young people remember) programme, the Minister of State also supports about 30 projects with which memorial sites for victims of the National Socialists and documentation centres are developing and testing new approaches in their education work with young people. Until 2022, another five million euros a year have been earmarked for this programme.

The aim, explained Monika Grütters, is to take experimental and innovative paths in remembrance work. "We want to do more to address new target groups, including immigrants. In this way we can strengthen their critical awareness of history and discuss the foundations of our society and values such as democracy and the rule of law."

Link to the present day

The rising number of visitors to the documentation centres and memorial sites that commemorate the victims of the National Socialist regime demonstrates the enormous interest in the educational services offered, especially on the part of schools. "This makes it possible to take a critical look at the history of National Socialism, and to forge links to topical issues and to our own lives. We must not look away today, when anti-Semitism, racism and exclusion proliferate," underscored the Minister of State.

Charity concert to mark the 75th anniversary

In the evening, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Minister of State Monika Grütters attended the charity concert in the Berlin State Opera held in memory of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Before the concert, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki welcomed the audience. The proceeds from the concert will go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

On 27 January 1945 Soviet troops liberated the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Since 1996 this day has been the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism in Germany. Since 2006, 27 January has been International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The annual remembrance ceremony will be held in the German Bundestag on 29 January.