Xi Jinping's Germany Trip Berlin Nixes Holocaust Memorial Request

Amid tensions over Japan's historical war crimes, Chinese President Xi Jinping had wanted Chancellor Angela Merkel to show him World War II memorials during his upcoming visit to Berlin. Germany, however, wants no part of Beijing's propaganda offensive.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin: Chinese President Xi Jinping is welcome to wander through in March, but on his own time.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin: Chinese President Xi Jinping is welcome to wander through in March, but on his own time.

China, Reuters reported in February, wants Japan to be more like Germany -- specifically, it wants Tokyo to do more to acknowledge the suffering Japan inflicted on China during World War II. Chinese President Xi Jinping wanted to underline that desire during his upcoming March visit to Berlin by taking in some of the myriad war memorials which dot the German capital.

Berlin, though, wants no part of the East Asian propaganda war. SPIEGEL has learned that a visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe -- Berlin's largest Holocaust memorial -- requested by Beijing will not be part of the itinerary of Xi's trip at the end of March. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also declined to accompany Xi to the Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism, a smaller monument across from Humboldt University known as the Neue Wache.

The German government, Berlin sources told SPIEGEL, wants to avoid becoming involved in the tiff over history currently straining relations between Beijing and Tokyo. Government sources told SPIEGEL that Xi was, of course, welcome to visit World War II memorials on his own time.

In recent years, China has repeatedly contrasted Germany's decades-long expressions of contrition for the horrors of World War II with Japan's alleged inaction. Tokyo has repeatedly apologized for the suffering visited upon China during the war, but periodic visits by top Japanese officials to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors wartime leaders in addition to the victims of the war, have led China to question Japan's stance on the issue. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the shrine at the end of December.

Germany is skittish about China's renewed focus on World War II. An unnamed German diplomatic source told Reuters in February that "the Germans are really uncomfortable with this kind of thing. They don't like China constantly comparing them with Japan and going on about the war."



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broremann 03/03/2014
1. a view
while I agree that Germany has an historic responsibility regarding the Holocaust, but there must be a point when history honestly written,and the burden of guilt should follow generation after generation
armino 03/04/2014
2. the past...
"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." Aldous Huxley
delia 03/04/2014
3. optional
Can't say that I blame Merkel. If Xi wants to guilt out Japan, let him find another way. He should consider that there is a limit to the number of generations that will put up with the constant public shaming, and that the political returns are, with respect to the holocaust, fast diminishing.
27helmut 03/04/2014
4. china request
the holocaust memorials are a symbol of decency to recognize a mistake made by a previous generation, something that unfortunately can never be changed, only somewhat forgiven. On the other hand, young, then unborn Germans should not be made to admit guilt constantly over their forefathers actions. Human History would require billions of children to atone for their ancestors actions. If China wants to continuously dig up Germany's past, they should also put up a memorial for the 24 million people who were starved to death during Mao's Great Leap Forward, and have the world leaders all visit their memorial under the guidance of the current "Godfather". Furthermore, in a free society, anyone should be allowed to visit anyone's grave...on their own time.
bmvjr 03/04/2014
5. Sensitive issues
are something China has plenty of in their own yard. You don't even have to reach back as far as WWII, more recent "actions" by the Chinese Leadership provide ample cause for self-reflection rather than indulging in scratching at open wounds inflicted by others 70 years ago - especially when this seems entirely motivated by current politics rather than genuine memory of the victims.
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