a day to remember

Red Army taking Berlin, end of WWII – picture by SWR

Yesterday was a bank holiday in Berlin. Not one of your recurrent bank holidays, but a one-off day to mark a very special date: May, 8th 1945 – the date of utter capitulation of the Wehrmacht to the Allied Forces. Thus ending World War II and the reign of Hitler and his Nazi regime. And freeing the few survivors in the concentration camps strewn all over Germany and its conquered territories.

But subsequently also freeing the Germans as a people. Those, who opposed or disliked the Nazi ideas, first. And furthermore – by introducing the ideas of a free and democratic world and giving means to rebuild the country – the entire nation.

I personally think it a good idea, that this nation remembers, what singular crime against humanity was caused by Germans. Lest they forget….

neue wache 8.5.20
08.05.2020 ceremony at Neue Wache Berlin, from right: Chancellor Mrs. Merkel,  President of the Bundestag Mr.Schäuble, President Mr. Steinmeier, Chief Magistrate of Brandenburg Mr. Woidtke, Chairman of German Constitutional Court Mr. Vosskuhle – picture dpa / Süddeutsche Zeitung

I really like Mr. Frank Walter Steinmeier’s speech at the Neue Wache Berlin, where the official ceremonial act – very small, due to the corona virus restrictions – took place yesterday. The President said:

Es gibt keinen deutschen Patriotismus ohne Brüche – “ohne Freude und Trauer, ohne Dankbarkeit und Scham”. Die deutsche Geschichte, sie sei eine gebrochene Geschichte, mit der Verantwortung für millionenfachen Mord und millionenfaches Leid. “Das bricht uns das Herz”, so Steinmeier. Und das bedeute: “Man kann dieses Land nur mit gebrochenem Herzen lieben.” (report by Süddeutsche Zeitung, 8.5.2020)

(There exists no German patriotism without friction. “none, without joy and sorrow, without gratitude and shame.” German history is a fractured history, responsible for millionfold murder and millionfold suffering. “That breaks our heart” says Steinmeier. And it implies: “One can only love this country with a broken heart.”)

Well put, Mr. President. And thanks again to Britain, France, the U.S. of A. and Russia.

fw Steinmeier
President Frank Walter Steinmeier at Neue Wache, 08.05.2020 – picture dpa/Süddeutsche Zeitung

He then went on to remind us of the importance of the European Union and what prolonged period of peace was made possible by this political project.

08.05.2020 – Neue Wache Berlin – picture dpa / Süddeutsche Zeitung

8 thoughts on “a day to remember

  1. In terms of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, the US could learn so much from the Germans. We are still paying the price of never having come to terms with slavery and the fact that the country was basically built on the backs of its victims. We have such an ignorant form of patriotism. I like the speech excerpt a lot too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agree. Germany was forced to confront the legacy of fascism, at least to a point. Nothing comparable happened with slavery in America. In fact, we had the opposite – history was rewritten from the point of view of the South.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This remembrance is so important. We cannot forget that the legacy of nationalism was the utter devastation of Europe, including Germany. Now it seems some people, including Trump, are trying to forget that WW II ever happened. We cannot let them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So you might find this interesting. It’s an old WW2 song called UAW-CIO Makes the Army Roll and Go. Notes that it was the union, not the auto industry, that pushed for total mobilization of American industry for the war effort. Henry Ford, of course, was an anti-semite and Nazi sympathizer, but he still made a boatload of money from the war. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEEWUQtqNCY

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This remembrance is so important now that so many people are trying to erase the lessons of that era. The legacy of nationalism was the total devastation of Europe, including Germany. While there were some holdouts, most people accepted this conclusion, at least to some degree. Now people are trying to revive the slogans and symbols of the 30s as if WW II never happened. Including Trump with his “America First”. We can’t let them get away with it.


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