Mike Pence, family visit Nazi concentration camp in Germany

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Vice President Mike Pence, along with second lady Karen Pence and their eldest daughter Charlotte, visited a Nazi concentration camp Sunday near Munich, Germany.

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They were met by Karl Freller, the director of the Foundation of Bavarian Memorial Sites. They were also joined by a survivor of the camp, Abba Naor, a Jewish Lithuanian who today lives in Israel.

The Pences walked around the camp, touring various areas, including the prison yard. They also spent time in a building which contains exhibits about the Nazis. They stood before a large map showing the network of camps around Germany and Nazi-occupied countries elsewhere in Europe.

Naor spoke to the vice president about conditions at Dachau, which opened in March 1933 and was liberated by American forces in April 1945.

Of the camp's liberation by American troops, he said, "One morning, they came," he said. "Strange faces."

The Pences visited another room that housed examples of Nazi propaganda.

Outside, the Pences spent time looking at the International Monument, a sculpture made of dark bronze designed by Nandor Glid in 1997. It features short strands of barbed wire on which skeletons are hanging with their heads dangling sharply. On either side of the sculpture are concrete fence posts which closely resemble the ones actually used to support the barbed wire fence around the camp.

Below the monument on a stone wall are bronze numbers denoting the dates the camp operated, 1933-1945.

The vice president and second lady placed a wreath of white flowers in front of the wall. They stood for a moment in silence and then walked back toward the center of the yard.

They also visited the Jewish Memorial, situated near the prison fence. The structure is built from basalt lava and features a sloping ramp down to an underground prayer room. The roof is also sloped upward and a stone menorah sits on the building's apex.

Pence spoke for a while with Charlotte Knobloch and Karin Offmann from the Bavarian Jewish Council. The group descended the ramp down to the prayer room -- which was lit with candles -- and observed a moment of silence. They later visited the camp's crematorium.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the number of prisoners incarcerated in Dachau between 1933 and 1945 exceeded 188,000. The number of prisoners who died in the camp and the subcamps between January 1940 and May 1945 was at least 28,000, to which must be added those who perished there between 1933 and the end of 1939, as well as an uncounted number of unregistered prisoners.

It is unlikely that the total number of victims who died in Dachau will ever be known, according to the museum.

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