Fuerstenberg, Germany (dpa) - Around 100 survivors of Nazi German atrocities attended a memorial service at the former Ravensbrueck concentration camp on Sunday, 65 years after it was liberated at the end of World War II.
The former inmates, who returned from homes in Europe and the United States to the site of their wartime ordeals, were amnong around 1,000 people at the commemorative event.
German Education Minister Annette Schavan said the victims' ordeals were an everlasting warning, and said the terrible deeds of the past were part of German history and identity.
"Whoever wants to comprehend the suffering reaches the limits of human powers of imagination," Schavan told the gathering at the former concentration camp, north of Berlin.
The minister said Germans could not "place our hands in our laps," and do nothing, as long as attacks on synagogues were still happening on German soil.
The President of the International Ravensbrueck Committee of survivors, Annette Chalut, said the memories had to stay alive after the last survivors had died.
She called for people to also remember the men incarcerated in Ravensbrueck, which served mostly as a Nazi concentration camp for women.
Similar commemorative events were due to take place the same day in the former concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, near the historic city of Weimar, and in Bergen-Belsen in Lower Saxony.
Schavan went to Ravensbrueck in place of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who changed her plans to attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. In the end, ash clouds forcing the closure of German airspace delayed Merkel's return from a trip to the US.
On April 30, 1945, the Soviet Red Army freed around 3000 inmates at Ravensbrueck, most of whom had reached the camp on foot during the Nazi death marches.
Between 1939 and 1945 around 152,000 women, children and men were incarcerated in the camp.