Germany observed its first remembrance day for the victims of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime with low-key local ceremonies Saturday, drawing criticism from a leading Jew who called for the day to be given a higher profile.
Local politicians and former concentration camp prisoners laid wreaths at memorials across the country, including the sites of the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck camps, where the Nazis killed tens of thousands of Jews.
Earlier this month, President Roman Herzog declared Jan. 27, the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as Germany’s official day of remembrance for the victims of Hitler’s regime.
Parliament held its own ceremony with a speech by Herzog on Jan. 19, as it had not planned to be in session on the official day and the president planned to be out of the country on a visit to Africa.
Michel Friedmann, a board member of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, chided Parliament for holding its own ceremony instead of joining the rest of the nation.
“I hope that, from next year, the day will be respected as such. I can only express my amazement that the regional states who are observing the day are also treating it in such an arbitrary manner,” he told German radio.