The visit was solemn but simple, and only part was open to the media. Angela Merkel said only a few words: "This is a very special moment." "The memory of the fate [of these victims] fills me with deep sorrow and shame.."
Merkel was the first chancellor in office to visit the Dachau camp, northwest of Munich, Bavaria, but had already visited other camps, like Buchenwald with the U.S. President, Barack Obama. And three years ago the then German President Horst Köhler, had participated in the celebrations of 65 years of the liberation of Dachau by American troops.
Dachau was a concentration camp established as early as March 1933, and was there for the newly created regime send many political opponents. Became known as "school of violence" as it was the model for the other camps.
During World War II, were imprisoned in Dachau more than 200 thousand people: Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, the handicapped, prisoners of war, political opponents. More than 41,000 died: killed, disease or starvation.
Today is the most visited camp in Germany: 800 000 visitors per year.
Merkel's trip to Dachau in the middle of a pre-election tour the country caused controversy, with accusations of bad taste: shortly after the visit appeared, smiling, with the inevitable mug of beer in hand, in a campaign action. Bavaria has elections on 15 September 2013, days before the national 22.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, from Munich, commented that it was "unwise" on the part of the chancellor to visit the camp before a trip to a beer tent.
The Jewish leaders, for their part, praised the decision. The chairman of the camps Dachau, Max Mannheimer, 93, who accompanied Merkel, said that the "historic" visit is "a sign of respect for the former detainees."
Historian Michael Wolffsohn, from Munich University of Armed Forces, stresses that it would be difficult for an action related to the Nazi past bring some electoral advantage. But note that a chancellor candidate for reelection (third term), schedule a visit at the peak of the campaign, "without this representing a political risk": "It is a sign that the relationship between Germany and its history is become more relaxed".
Munich is to be the venue of the trial of the neo-Nazi group called Zwickau cell that carried out a series of murders, for ten years without being discovered. Freller Karl, director of historical memorials of Bavaria, noted that the interest in the camps has increased since the beginning of the process in May.