DACHAU, Germany – A day after delivering the first major foreign policy address of the Trump administration, US Vice President Mike Pence toured the spare gray prison yards here where Jews and others assembled for daily roll call during the Holocaust.
It was a low-key visit to this Nazi-era concentration camp in southern Germany, coming midway through Pence’s European swing that’s meant to shore up alliances amid deep anxieties about the new US administration.
Pence’s visit was meant as a public show of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust, many of whom passed through Dachau on their way to death at Auschwitz. The Dachau prison was established in 1933, acting as a labor camp for political prisoners, Jews, homosexuals, Roma (gypsies) and others during Nazi rule of Germany. American soldiers liberated the camp at the end of World War II.
Pence didn’t offer a specific message during his visit, which came a day after he aimed to calm European fears about US-Russia ties in a speech at a security summit in Munich. Instead he quietly toured the cell blocks and other buildings with a guide and a survivor, Abba Naor. Pence’s wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte joined him for the stop.
Under cloudy skies, Pence and his wife laid a white flower wreath at the International Monument, a jagged brass sculpture that evokes human figures trying to escape barbed wire. He observed moments of silence at memorials to the camp’s Jewish and Catholic victims.
Pence viewed Dachau’s crematoriums, used to destroy the evidence of Nazi cruelty. Later he attended a church service at the Protestant Church of Reconciliation.
Politicians have visited Dachau before, including Vice President Joe Biden, who toured the facility with his granddaughter during a 2015 visit to Munich for the same security conference where Pence spoke Saturday.