Pope Benedict XVI voiced "sadness and repentance" as he paid solemn tribute Friday to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust at the start of a three-day visit to Austria.
Shortly after his arrival in Vienna, the pope made a brief stop at Judenplatz (Jews' Square) which is home to a monument to the 60,000 Austrian Jews killed during World War II.
The pontiff paid a silent tribute at the memorial, before exchanging a few words with members of the Jewish community.
"It is time to express our sadness, our repentance and our friendship towards the Jews," Benedict XVI had said earlier on the plane while flying into Vienna from Rome.
The pope was greeted at Vienna airport by Austrian President Heinz Fischer and the country's archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who also underlined that Jesus and the apostles were Jewish and that "we must never forget our roots."
"It is part of this city's tragedy that it is indeed here that these roots were forgotten, even denied, to the point of wanting to destroy a people to whom God gave his first love," Schoenborn said.