Merkel awarded Elie Wiesel Prize for preservation of Holocaust memory

Chancellor Merkel has been awarded the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s highest honor for her help preserving memories of the Holocaust. She visited Buchenwald concentration camp with the man after whom the award was named.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a wreath laying ceremony during her visit to the concentration camp Dachau (picture-alliance/AP Photo/K. Joensson)

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel was honored on Monday by the Holocaust Memorial Museum in the US for her contributions to Holocaust memory and education.

She was awarded the Elie Wiesel Prize – the highest award given by the museum.

The museum said it gave the award for her “unwavering commitment to making the preservation of Holocaust memory a priority for Germany.”

“When the museum was facing staunch opposition in its effort to open the largest closed Holocaust archive in the world, the International Tracing Service, Chancellor Merkel changed her government’s policy and sent her justice minister to the museum to announce Germany’s support for opening the archives, thereby enabling thousands of survivors and their families to discover for the first time the fate of loved ones,” the museum said in a statement.

“The Chancellor has supported the creation and strengthening of Holocaust-related institutions in Germany which have become among the museum’s most important partners. She has repeatedly and vigorously condemned all manifestations of antisemitism.

“Her visit to Buchenwald with the museum’s founding chairman Elie Wiesel in 2009 was symbolic of the many efforts that have been made by Germany to confront its past.”

Merkel thanked the museum for the award, saying in a video message “We owe it to the victims who went through immeasurable suffering to explore these deepest recesses of our being,” referencing a quote by Wiesel.

German ambassador to the US Peter Wittig accepted the award on her behalf in Washington.

I am honored to have accepted the Elie Wiesel Award, the highest honor of @HolocaustMuseum, on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel tonight

Merkel said the award was a “major gesture” of ties between US Holocaust memorial efforts and Germany that was not to be taken for granted.

Merkel said that for Germany to have a bright future, it was essential to understand the Holocaust as “the ultimate betrayal of all civilized values.”

Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel listens to US President George W. Bush at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington (picture-alliance/dpa/Brack Pool)Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel was a tireless human rights campaigner

Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and the founding chairman of the museum. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986  He died last year.

The museum has awarded the prize since 2011 to recognize “internationally prominent individuals whose actions have advanced the museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.”

April 24 was Holocaust Remembrance Day, known as Yom Hashoah. It marked the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

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