German president heads to Israel to attend Holocaust commemorations

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was heading to Israel on Wednesday to take part in Holocaust commemorations marking 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

On Thursday, Germany’s ceremonial head of state will join world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Valdimir Putin at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

More than any other site, Auschwitz is a symbol of the atrocities of the Holocaust. More than 1 million people were murdered at the Nazi death camp in occupied southern Poland, the majority of them Jewish.

Around 7,000 survivors were found at Auschwitz when the camp was liberated by Red Army soldiers on January 27, 1945.

Following his arrival on Wednesday, Steinmeier is to hold talks with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

The two leaders are also expected to meet at Auschwitz on Monday, the actual day of the anniversary. Two days later, they are to address German lawmakers in the Bundestag parliament in Berlin.

The commemorations are taking place amid heightened concerns over modern-day anti-Semitism, including in Germany, where a gunman in October killed two people during his attempt to storm a synagogue.

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