One year has passed since the publication of the manifesto “Zeitenwende: Russia’s War on Ukraine”.
In the run-up to the approaching anniversary of the end of the Second World War on May 8/9, 2023, we, the participants of the alliance “Commemoration Against War”, declare that commemorating the events, crimes, victims and heroic resistance that took place 80 years ago is not possible today, during Russia’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine, without drawing parallels to the crimes, destruction and resistance that are taking place right now in the center of Europe before our eyes. The same is true in reverse: Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 is directly related to the way the victory over fascism in May 1945 was interpreted in Soviet-Russian historiography. The concealment of war crimes on the part of the victorious army and the military leadership of the USSR, the deliberate disregard for the role of the Western Allies and the fact that the Red (Soviet) Army was multinational, the glorification of military actions and the concomitant suppression of the facts of destruction, human sacrifice and suffering are just a few examples of the instrumentalization of history in favor of an ideology that is increasingly aggressive toward the outside world. As a result, the celebration of the victorious end of the war in Russia in the years leading up to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been completely transformed by the cult of victory into a cult of war.
80 years ago, Nazi Germany waged a war of extermination in Eastern Europe. Since the annexation of Crimea and the start of the Donbass War in 2014, Russia has sought not only to take away Ukraine’s territories, but also to destroy it as an independent state and the Ukrainian people as a nation – an idea openly voiced in recent months by high-ranking Russian government officials. More than that, the Putin regime has no intention of stopping at Ukraine. His goal is to destroy the international world order based on the rule of law and replace it with one in which the law of the strongest applies. It must not succeed in this.
That is why the efforts of all democratic states today must be directed at supporting Ukraine in its struggle for liberation with all available legal means, including heavy weapons, until the full restoration of its territorial integrity within the 1991 borders. In this situation, it is no longer enough to condemn the war in general terms and to advocate peace without specifying how it might be achieved: Just, lasting peace and freedom are at stake throughout Europe.
Calls for an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations are heard frequently in Germany. The problem, however, is that it is pointless to address them to the German or Ukrainian governments. The aggression emanates from Moscow, and it can only be stopped there immediately. In turn, the demand to stop military aid to Ukraine means nothing other than allowing that when Ukraine is no longer able to defend itself, it will cease to exist as a sovereign state and the Ukrainian population will be subjected to even more violence and terror than is already the case in the occupied territories.
We, the members of the Alliance, strongly condemn such demands and believe that it is in the interest of pan-European security to further strengthen humanitarian, economic and military support to Ukraine, as this is currently the only effective way to resist Russian aggression as well as to force the aggressor to abandon its imperial aspirations.
The responsibility that we feel as a result of the events of the Second World War means that we continue to investigate old crimes and extend these investigations to new ones, which occur daily. They have to be documented and evaluated legally, politically and historically as well as prosecuted in front of an international tribunal. Because impunity for the most severe human rights and international law abuses sows the seeds of further armed conflicts. Serving justice is indispensable for a secure and peaceful European future.
On May 8 and 9, we invite organizations, associations, foundations, groups, collectives, artists, journalists, all those who support the guidelines of Manifesto 2022 and this call, to actively participate in the actions for the end of World War II at one of the memorial sites in Berlin.
Austausch e.V., Bundesverband russischsprachiger Eltern e.V., Dekabristen e.V., Demokrati-JA, Memorial Deutschland e.V., Feminist Anti-War Resistance Berlin, FAR Oxford, Deutsche Perspektive e.V., Russian* Resistance Goettingen
Markus Meckel, Außenminister und MdB a.D., Dr. Richard Herzinger, Publizist, Dmitri Stratievski, Historiker, Politologe, Dr. Dieter Bingen, Politikwissenschaftler und Historiker, Stefan Hanisch, Jurist und Consultant, Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, History educator, Dr. Tatiana Golova, Soziologin, Dr. Walter Frölich, Entwicklungsexperte, Michael Ohnesorge, Dozent in der politischen Jugend- und Erwachsenenbildung, Anastasia Tikhomirova, Journalistin, Götz Höhne, Milen Radev, Katharina Kaden, Sabine Spicker, Dmitry Panfilov, Winfried Klinghammer, Verena Klinghammer, Thea Tobisch-Schuster, Heidi Bohley, Anna Hope, Alexei Dörre, Elke Braun, Valeriia Razheva, Elisabeth Wanjura, Vladislav Shishkin, Thomas Dancker, Frank Ebert, Martin Guse, Andreas Decker, Alfred Stiglbauer