Speaking at the site of the Buchenwald death camp, Chancellor Schroeder
expressed concern at the resurgence of right-wing groups in his country.

“We will not allow lawlessness and violence, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia to have another chance,” he vowed.

The chancellor said today’s Germany was shaped by the horrors wrought by Adolf Hitler’s regime.

“We cannot change history, but this country can learn a lot from the deepest shame of our history,” he said.

Camp survivors, many now well into their 80s and some weeping, watched the ceremony in a theatre in the eastern city of Weimar.

Chancellor Schroeder added “The peaceful Europe we have built has many roots but the deepest lie in the darkest years of the 20th century, in those years when the terror of the camps overshadowed Europe.”

Around 56,000 people died in Buchenwald, which was opened in 1937 by the Nazis for the internment of Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals and political opponents.

Buchenwald had no gas chambers, but prisoners were murdered by lethal injections, being shot,or starved to death.

Prisoners at the camp were forced to build roads and railways to assist the Nazi war machine.

“They fell victim to hunger, sickness, the sadistic terror and systematic murder,” Mr Schroeder said in a speech.

The camp was liberated by US troops in 1945 when 21,000 prisoners, many emaciated and close to exhaustion, were freed.

The US commander leading the liberation was so horrified by what he found in Buchenwald that he forced the residents of nearby Weimar to visit and see what had been done in their name.