A broad alliance is calling for events and actions to be held on and around 8th/9th of May 2022 at important places of remembrance in Berlin.
We, the participants in the “Remembrance Against War” alliance, invite organizations of all kinds and forms, be it civil organizations or companies, but also artists, journalists, and other individuals to join us.
The alliance proposes the following guidelines for the remembrance and approach towards the 8th/9th of May.
The Second World War, which ended on the 8th/9th of May 1945 in Europe by the surrender of Germany, started on the 1st of September 1939 by the German invasion of Poland. It was a crime against humanity by Nazi Germany that claimed the lives of more than 70 million people. It was a racist war with the attempt of annihilation in the East, to which more than 5 million Polish and around 27 million Soviet citizen of all nationalities fell victim, including millions of Jews and hundreds of thousands of members of various Roma groups, who were systematically murdered by the Germans due to racist motives.
The Soviet Union (and today Russia) speaks about the “Great Patriotic War”, 1941 – 1945.This suppresses the fact that they were also involved in the war from 1939 to 1941, in the first phase of the war, as an ally of Hitler’s Germany. The occupation and division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union was the first step, which was followed by a multitude of crimes by both totalitarian dictatorships in Europe. Considering Soviet crimes such as the murder of Polish officers (Katyn) does not in any way relativize German crimes – it rather highlights a shared responsibility. The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939 created the basis for the German invasion and occupation of Poland and the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland.
Whether the end of the war in Europe is referred to as “Day of Surrender”, “Day of Liberation” or “Day of Victory” – in 1945 Nazi Germany was fortunately defeated by the Allies, i.e. the Soviet Union, the USA, Great Britain and France, and supported by Poland and other countries, thus ending the Second World War in Europe.
The victorious Soviet (Red) Army consisted of soldiers of all genders who belonged to different ethnic groups and came from all the constituent republics of the USSR – this should be given special consideration in today’s commemoration. Equating the Soviet Union’s victory with a “Russian victory” is incorrect.
Germany has a special historical responsibility, especially towards Ukraine and Belarus. During World War II, Russia was partially occupied by Nazi Germany and its allies, while Ukraine, Belarus and other republics in the west of the USSR were completely occupied. Here the Germans were able to live out their fantasies of annihilation, and last but not least Ukraine and Belarus were central scenes of the Holocaust and the attempt to annihilate so-called “Slavic sub-humans”. So far, this has never been adequately addressed by the German public; instead, German crimes in Ukraine, Belarus and other former Soviet republics are very often subsumed under “responsibility towards Russia”. We therefore welcome the decision of the German Bundestag on October 9, 2020, to set up a documentation center on the war of annihilation in the East and on the German occupation of Europe.
A contemporary, thoughtful examination of the Second World War must go hand in hand with coming to terms with the dictatorships of that time – i.e., not only the Nazi ones in Germany but also the Soviet ones under Stalin and others in the war-torn countries. This also includes understanding and approaching dictatorships as systems of rule.
The founding of the United Nations and the international post-war order set out in the UN Charter are responses to the horrors of the Second World War. With the Charter of Paris for a New Europe in 1990, this was further developed as determined by common values. With the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war against Ukraine in 2022, Russia is trying to destroy this international legal and peace order. Resisting this and countering it with all your might and supporting Ukraine is a central task of the international community.
Responsible commemoration of the capitulation of fascist Germany in 1945 and the victory of the Allies also means standing up for peace in Europe and condemning today’s aggressive war by Russia against Ukraine.
Alliance “Remembrance Against War“
Berlin, the 27th of April 2022
Dekabristen e.V., Demokrati-JA, German-Belarusian Society e.V. (Deutsch-Belarussische Gesellschaft e.V. – dgb), DRA e.V., EU-Russia Civil Society Forum e.V. (CSF), Memorial Deutschland e.V., Willi-Eichler-Akademie e.V., Solidarus e.V., PANDA platforma e.V., Forum of Russian-speaking Europeans (Forum russischsprachiger Europäer e.V.), German-Russian Human Rights Dialogue (Deutsch-Russischer Menschenrechte-Dialog e.V.), German Poland Institute (Deutsches Polen Institut), Darmstadt, European exchange (Europäischer Austausch gGmbH), Razam e.V., Federal Association of Russian-Speaking Parents (Bundesverband russischsprachiger Eltern e.V.)
Prof. Dr Aleida Assmann, cultural scientist, Markus Meckel, former Foreign Minister and former Member of the Bundestag, Peter Liesegang, person interested in organizational matters and Eastern Europe , Prof. Dr Dieter Bingen, political scientist and historian, Ekkehard Maaß, German-Caucasian Society (Deutsch-Kaukasische Gesellschaft e.V.), Berlin , Elena Ilina, activist, Igor Eidman, sociologist, Kerstin Nickig, freelance filmmaker, Basil Kerski, managing director, European Solidarność Center in Danzig, Alexey Kozlov, human rights activist, Svetlana Müller, 1st chairwoman of the association PANDA platforma e. V., Dr Richard Herzinger, publicist, Prof. Dr Katya Makhotina, Eastern European History, University of Bonn , Gisela Kallenbach, former MEP, Leipzig, Stefan Stader, head of the Berlin Office of the Willi Eichler Academy, Stefan Hanisch, lawyer and consultant, specialist in area studies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Verena Klinghammer