US President Barack Hussein Obama will tour the German slave labor camp Buchenwald with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later this week, as part of a world outreach tour which will focus on building ties with the Arab world.
Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany and made an official visit to Israel in 2007, will accompany the US's left-leaning president through the camp, in which over 56,000 Jews and other prisoners were murdered prior to liberation in 1945. Famed Jewish writer and Buchenwald survivor Elie Wiesel will also accompany the dignitaries.
The tour will take place on June 5th, one day before taking part in a ceremony with French President Nicholas Sarkozy celebrating the 65th anniversary of the 1944 invasion of Allied forces in Normandy.
Charlie Panye, Obama's great-uncle, was one of the American soldiers who participated in the liberation of Buchenwald's sub-camp, Ohrdruf. In telling the story of his uncle's experiences at the camp during his presidential campaign, the then-hopeful was embarrassed when staff members corrected him after he proudly relayed that his uncle had liberated Auschwitz.
The Auschwitz death camp – perhaps the most famous of all the Nazi concentration camps – was liberated by the USSR's Red Army.
Obama will arrive in Germany after delivering a historic address in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, which will continue the Obama government's policy of détente with the Arab world.
Obama will not, however, cross the border for a visit to Israel. Analysts say Obama is spurning Israel due to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's refusal to conform to US demands on settlement growth in Judea and Samaria and other differences.