Fight right-wing extremism, Merkel urges

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

Europe must fight right-wing ideas and movements to protect its democracy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday as she prepared to visit a Nazi concentration camp next week.

“We must never accept that such lines of thought have a place in our democratic Europe,” she said in her weekly video podcast.

Merkel plans Tuesday to visit the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich. She described herself as moved that a survivor of the camp, Max Mannheimer, the chairman of the committee of former Dachau prisoners, had invited her.

She is travelling there with a “feeling of shame and shock,” she said, “because what happened in the concentration camps is and remains unfathomable.”

“We know that today we live in a democracy, but we also know that this democracy is always at risk,” she warned.

She called it “mortifying,” for example, that Jewish establishments in Germany must stay under police watch “because otherwise we must always worry that they will be desecrated.”

The government and large parts of society take the danger posed by right-wing extremism seriously, Merkel said.

Germany has established clear punishments through its legal system as well as programmes for those who want to leave right-wing movements, she said. All people are also urged to be aware that the rewriting of history and bogus slogans have no room in German society, she said.

“Civil courage is also part of society here, so that such ideas have absolutely no chance of spreading,” she said. – dpa