National and religious leaders came together this week to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. Auschwitz was one, probably the most infamous, of Nazi Germany’s death factories where millions of people, including 6m Jewish people, were murdered.
German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking at Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial said that he bowed his head in “deepest sorrow [for] the worst crime in the history of humanity”, committed by his countrymen.
“I wish I could say that we Germans have learnt from history once and for all. But I cannot say that when hatred is spreading,” he said, referring to resurgent antisemitism across Europe.
Germany has confronted its past in an exemplary and redemptive way. That process must have been, and still must be, painful especially as it required embracing horrible truths about itself and its past.
That process is not faultless or by any means exclusive but by confronting its history Germany has become a reliable light in what can be a dark world. There must be a lesson for all of us in that transformation.