07/20/2019 22:38 EDT | Updated 07/21/2019 11:44 EDT

Angela Merkel Rips Right-Wing Extremism On Anniversary Of Hitler Assassination Attempt

“We are ... obliged today to oppose all tendencies that seek to destroy democracy. That includes right-wing extremism,” declared the German chancellor.

Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel evokes the lessons of Nazi Germany during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the anniversary of a celebrated assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler to lash right-wing extremism on Saturday.

“This day is a reminder to us, not only of those who acted on July 20, but also of everyone who stood up against Nazi rule,” she said in her weekly video podcast.

“We are likewise obliged today to oppose all tendencies that seek to destroy democracy. That includes right-wing extremism,” she added, according to the BBC.

“Only by understanding our past can we build a good future,” she said. “We can build on the courage of these people today.”

The 1944 plot to kill Hitler — called Operation Valkyrie, which was the subject of the 2008 American film “Valkyrie,” starring Tom Cruise — was the most famous of the attempts on Hitler’s life. It was led by German Col. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who plotted with several co-conspirators to assassinate the Nazi leader with a briefcase bomb.

Stauffenberg, just 36 years old at the time, placed the briefcase next to Hitler before a meeting at Hitler’s secret Wolf’s Lair headquarters in an East Prussia forest. But Hitler survived the assassination attempt with minor injuries after someone moved the briefcase next to a heavy table leg, which deflected much of the explosion. Four people were killed when the briefcase detonated.

Stauffenberg and some 200 co-conspirators were caught and executed within hours.

Merkel honored the men at a Berlin commemoration marking the 75th anniversary of the assassination attempt. 

Germany is battling a new eruption of right-wing extremism. There are an estimated 24,000 right-wing extremists in Germany, and close to 13,000 are believed to have a tendency to violence, according to government statistics, the BBC reported. In May the nation’s right-wing party Alternative for Germany, which has a nationalist and anti-immigrant agenda, became the nation’s largest opposition party in German Parliament. 

On Friday, Merkel criticized President Donald Trump’s attack on progressive Democratic congresswomen of color. 

“I firmly distance myself from that, and I feel solidarity with [the] women who have been attacked,” Merkel said during a news conference, according to footage from Channel 4 News.

“I want to say clearly that from my perspective, the strength of America lies in the fact that it’s a country in which people of quite different nationalities have contributed to the strength of the American people,” she said. “And so when I hear there are things or statements that run counter to that, I have to speak.”