Angela Merkel and Mateusz Morawiecki laid wreaths at the Auschwitz Death Wall

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Angela Merkel and Mateusz Morawiecki laid wreaths at the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11tvn24
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have paid their respects to the victims of the death-camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Then two heads of state laid wreaths at the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11, followed by Auschwitz museum director Piotr Cywiński placing a urn with a candle at the wall.

It was Merkel's first visit on Friday to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial after 14 years as German chancellor, bringing a 60 million euro donation to help conserve the site where the Nazis ran their largest death camp.

Together with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a sombre Merkel toured the camp's crematorium where victims' bodies were burned, walking through the camp's iron gate bearing the motto "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) and visiting the camp's brick barracks, including the Death Wall, where the condemned were executed.

During her term, Merkel has not shied away from admitting German responsibility for its atrocities in World War Two, but her visit will ensure she follows in the footsteps of two former chancellors by seeing the site before her term ends.

"Auschwitz is a museum but is also the biggest cemetery in the world... Memory is the key to building the present and future," museum director Piotr Cywiński told Reuters ahead of Merkel's visit at the invitation of the Auschwitz foundation.

Among other tasks, the museum has to prevent the decay of relics from the victims, such as hair, shoes and spectacles.

Two years ago Cywiński appealed to donor countries for more support. Germany is the only country that has responded to date. The United States and Poland have previously been big donors.

Merkel will announce the donation, half of which comes from Germany's federal government and half from its regional governments, at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

The money will cement Germany's place as the largest donor to the foundation, which funds the conservation efforts for the site where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, died in what was then Nazi-occupied Poland.

The Polish government is one of the largest financial supporters of the Auschwitz museum as a whole, having funded more than 20% of its budget in 2018 alone.

More than 3 million of Poland's 3.2 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, roughly around half of all Jews murdered during World War Two.

The money will ensure that the conservation of 30 brick barracks in the Birkenau camp site as well as an old kitchen and latrine can continue.

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters