Obama arrives in Germany at start of WWII memorial tour

5th June 2009, Comments 1 comment

Obama will hold talks here with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before travelling with her and Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, to the Nazi-era concentration camp Buchenwald.

Dresden -- US President Barack Obama arrived in this eastern German city Thursday at the start of a solemn two-day mission of World War II remembrance, and a fresh round of transatlantic diplomacy.

Air Force One touched down at 8:50 pm local time in Dresden, three-quarters of which was destroyed by Allied bombing in February 1945 but whose Baroque centre has since been lovingly restored.

Obama will hold talks here with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before travelling with her and Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, to the Nazi-era concentration camp Buchenwald.

He will then make a brief stop at the US military hospital in Landstuhl in western Germany before flying to France where he will take part in commemorations of the 65th anniversary of D-Day landings in Normandy.

Obama arrived in Dresden from Cairo, where he delivered a landmark speech vowing vowed to forge a "new beginning" for Islam and America and laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy.

A senior US administration official said Obama had had useful discussions during his time in the Middle East on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and Iran's disputed nuclear programme.

"The president picked up a fair amount on both the issues," he told reporters from Air Force One.

Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdullah on the first leg of his international tour.

The aide said the two subjects would figure in his talks with Merkel and then in France with President Nicolas Sarkozy, and that Obama would call British Prime Minister Gordon Brown later Thursday to discuss the same topics.

Merkel told the German press that she also planned to discuss the global financial crisis, climate change, Afghanistan and Pakistan and North Korea's recent nuclear tests with the president.

Obama's visit to Buchenwald will have an important personal tinge as a great-uncle, Charlie Payne, helped liberate the camp while serving with US forces in World War II.

At least 56,000 prisoners died there in horrendous conditions.

Payne, now 84 and in frail health, decided not to accompany the president to Buchenwald, but will join Obama's party at the Normandy ceremonies at the US war cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer.

Obama pointedly mentioned the importance of Holocaust remembrance in his speech at the University of Cairo.

"Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful," Obama said in a clear swipe at Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

AFP/Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • Churchell posted:

    on 5th June 2009, 16:22:09 - Reply

    Even the Germans have forgotten that they lost 14,000,000 people. Of course the Allied bombs killed only the Gentiles. Not one Jew was killed by the bombs. Dresden never happened usw...