Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany has to be more vigilant when it comes to nationalist movements across Europe because of the country’s Nazi past.
Merkel, who was interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Berlin, said in excerpts released Tuesday that Germany has to face up to populists who are finding mainstream support, and recount “what history has brought.”
Referring to populist parties across the continent that were boosted by European Parliament elections on the weekend, Merkel said, “in Germany, obviously, they always have to be seen in a certain context, in the context of our past, which means we have to be that much more vigilant than others.”
Merkel, speaking Monday, also condemned the rise of anti-Semitism in the country, saying Germany “always had a certain number of anti-Semites among us, unfortunately.”
The government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, recently caused a stir for saying he “cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany.” His warning was criticized strongly by Israel’s president, among others.
Merkel also condemned the fact that, “there is to this day not a single synagogue, a single day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”
She conceded that, “unfortunately, over the years we have not been able to deal with this satisfactorily.”
Government statistics released earlier this month showed that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner incidents rose in Germany last year, despite an overall drop in politically motivated crimes.
Referring to the rise of nationalism and racism across Europe, Merkel said this is “why we are for democracy, why we try to bring about solutions, why we always have to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, why we stand up against intolerance, why we show no tolerance toward violations of human rights.”
The chancellor acknowledged that it has become harder to convince people of the lessons of the past, but, “it has to be taught to every new generation.”
Merkel, who has led Germany for the past 13 years, has announced that she will not run again for chancellor after her current term, which is scheduled to finish in 2021.