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….
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.
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.