Germany's extreme right-wing political party sent a group on tour through a former Nazi concentration camp, causing indignation in the country.
The group was selected by AfD and visited Sachsenhausen, which is north of Berlin, last summer.
During the visit & # 39; they questioned the existence of the gas chambers and the masses killed in it & # 39; before they were thrown out of the site by staff.
They would have too asked targeted questions about Allied bombing at the end of the Second World War, implying that the impact on the civilian population was comparable to the atrocities of the Nazis.
A group selected by Germany's extreme right-wing political party for Germany was sent on a tour through the former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen (photo)
Sachsenhausen memorial and museum director Axel Drecoll, in the photo, said the group & # 39; questioned the existence of the gas chambers & # 39; before they were told to leave the site
& # 39; As our horrific colleague told me, the remarks of clearly rhetorically trained people culminated in their questions about the existence of the gas chambers and the mass murders in them & # 39 ;, said the director of the memorial Axel Drecoll.
Drecoll, 45, demanded an apology from leading AfD figure Alice Weidel, who had organized the visit, but is still waiting for an answer.
This month, the authorities in the Land of Brandenburg sued a 69-year-old member of the group on charges of inciting, among other things, racial hatred.
Defenders of the holy reconciliation of Germany for the crimes of the Nazis – the basis of its basic law and political culture – warn that it is coming under calculated assault by right-wing extremists.
And in anticipation of three state elections in the coming weeks in which the AfD will do well, Germans such as Drecoll are getting nervous about the erosion of the country's remembrance culture.
The anti-migrant, anti-Muslim AfD could be the first in Brandenburg, as well as in neighboring Saxony – both going to the polls on 1 September – and is a strong poll for an October election in Thuringia.
Drecoll, 45, pictured at the former concentration camp, demanded an apology from the leading AfD figure Alice Weidel, who had organized the visit, but is still waiting for an answer
A 69-year-old member of the group was indicted this month on charges of incitement to racial hatred (the photo shows visitors in Sachsenhausen)
Leading AfD politicians have increasingly openly disputed Germany's unchaste reckoning with the legacy of the Nazi terror regime.
Party leader Alexander Gauland has given the 12-year-old Third Reich a & # 39; dot of bird droppings & # 39; mentioned in a further glorious German past.
Bjoern Hoecke, who represents the extreme right wing of AfD, has criticized the vast Holocaust monument of Berlin as a & # 39; monument of shame & # 39 ;.
And after a series of provocations, the former Buchenwald camp banned AfD politicians from commemorative ceremonies & # 39; as long as they were not credible from historical revisionist positions & # 39; are located.
Even if the AfD comes first in Brandenburg, mainstream parties are expected to unite to prevent the state from taking over the government.
Drecoll called the cultural damage caused by extreme right-wing damage extremely dangerous.
& # 39; What really worries me, is the breaking of verbal taboos. You cannot forget that words create reality, and the use of language extends to the realm of the possible – we learned that in the Nazi period, & he said.
Drecoll, pictured on the left with PR staff member Horst Seferens, said memorials such as Sachsenhausen need to evolve to defend their mission
& # 39; If you start talking about certain groups to say & # 39; they are so or so & # 39 ;, you play with fire. & # 39;
The most important candidate of the AfD in Brandenburg, Andreas Kalbitz, who often rages against & # 39; hordes of young Muslim men & # 39 ;, rejected Drecoll's concerns as & # 39; wrongly & # 39 ;.
Kalbitz, 46, told reporters that his party had no plans & # 39; to close the memorials or some side activity of the Nazi crimes & # 39 ;, and added: & # 39; I think this kind of hysteria with regard to the AfD will resolve, especially after the (state) elections. & # 39;
Drecoll said memorials such as Sachsenhausen need to evolve to defend their mission and prepare for a time when there are no longer Holocaust survivors to witness.
& # 39; That means interactive media in the exhibitions, tablets in the meeting rooms, an up-to-date website and audio guides for visitors who can become multimedia guides & # 39 ;, he said.
He said, however, that the emphasis on digital tools or a pivot in gadgets such as virtual reality glasses undermined efforts to teach lessons from the past and the duty to respect the dead.
& # 39; We are also a cemetery. We need a worthy memory and not pure emotion – tears do not train. & # 39;
Drecoll was also cautious about calling for mandatory visits by Germans to former camps.
& # 39; I really believe in intrinsic motivation – we want a conversation between peers & # 39 ;, he said.
& # 39; Also, some young people are simply overwhelmed by the images they face where the crimes were committed – you must respect that. & # 39;
About 200,000 people – Jews, dissidents from all over Europe, gay men and other groups targeted by the Nazis – were held in Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945.
At least 40,000 were killed or died in cruel circumstances.
The monument annually attracts around 700,000 visitors from all over the world – double that of ten years ago. The vast majority, Drecoll said, are & # 39; respectful & # 39 ;.
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