Text of the television address of the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, 8 May 2022 in which he addresses the fears of Germans on ongoing war in Ukraine
Dear fellow citizens!
77 years ago today, the Second World War ended in Europe. The silence of the weapons on 8 May 1945 resembled a cemetery silence – over the graves of of more than 60 million women, men and children.
Millions of them fell on the battlefields. Millions died, murdered in their towns and villages, in concentration or extermination camps.
Germans committed this crime against humanity. It is therefore all the more painful to witness how today, 77 years after the end of the the end of the Second World War, brute force is once again breaking the law, right in the middle of Europe.
How Russia’s army is killing men, women and children in Ukraine, destroying towns and cities, even attacking refugees.
For me, this is an 8 May like no other. That is why I am addressing you today.
We cannot commemorate the end of the Second World War in Europe without facing the fact: There is war again in Europe. Russia has unleashed this war.
Once Russians and Ukrainians fought together at the greatest sacrifice to put down Germany’s murderous National Socialism. Germany was guilty then, of both nations, Russian and Ukrainian nations.
We have been striving for reconciliation with both for decades.
Now, however, Russia’s President Putin wants to subjugate Ukraine and destroy its culture and identity.
President Putin even equates his barbaric war of aggression with the fight against against National Socialism. This is distorting history and infamous. It is our duty to say this clearly.
But that is not the end of the matter.
It was the military victory of the Allies that put an end to the National Socialist dictatorship in Germany.
We Germans are grateful for this to this day!
That is why in 1985, the then Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker could speak of 8 May as “Liberation Day”.
From the catastrophic history of our country between 1933 and 1945 we have learned a central lesson. It is: “Never again!”
Never again war.
Never again genocide.
Never again tyranny.
And yet it has happened again – war in Europe. This is what Ukrainian President Selenskyj pointed out today.
In the current situation, this can only mean: We defend justice and freedom – on the side of the attacked. We support Ukraine in the fight against the aggressor.
Not to do so would be to capitulate to sheer violence – and to embolden the aggressor.
We are helping so that the violence can end.
That is why we have taken far-reaching and difficult decisions in recent days and weeks – swiftly and decisively, thoughtfully and weighed.
We have imposed unprecedented sanctions against the Russian economy and the Russian leadership to dissuade Putin from his course of war.
We have welcomed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians with open arms.
Hundreds of thousands have found refuge with us from the violence in their homeland.
Aid organisations are providing initial support, schools and kindergartens are setting up welcome classes, and citizens are taking in refugees in their homes.
I would like to thank you for this enormous willingness to help everywhere in our country from the bottom of my heart!
And – for the first time ever in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany we are sending weapons to such a war zone, on a large scale. We will continue to do so.
I can well imagine how much these decisions move many of you.
After all, it is literally about war and peace.
About our historical responsibility.
For maximum solidarity with Ukraine under attack.
The security of our country and our alliance.
Reconciling these goals – this is the task that we set ourselves day by day.
It is good and legitimate for us as a country to discuss issues of this magnitude intensively with one another.
It is also part of democracy to conduct such controversies in “respect and mutual esteem”.
The Federal President was right to point this out in his speech this morning.
Many of the statements I hear these days speak of serious concern. Concern that the war is spreading, that peace could also be endangered in our country. It would be wrong to simply dismiss this. Such concerns must be must be able to be voiced.
At the same time, fear must not paralyse us.
I have described to you what we are doing to defend justice and freedom in Ukraine and throughout Europe. That is a lot.
And at the same time, we do not simply do everything that one or the other demands. For in my oath of office I swore to avert harm to the German people. This includes protecting our country and our allies from danger.
Four clear principles follow from this for politics:
– First: No German unilateral action! Whatever we do, we must coordinate with our allies – in Europe and on the other side of the Atlantic.
– Secondly: In everything we do, we take care to maintain our own defence capabilities! And: We have decided to equip the Bundeswehr significantly better equipped, so that it can continue to defend us in the future.
– Thirdly, we will not do anything that harms us or our partners more than Russia.
– And fourthly: we will not make any decision that would make NATO become a party to the war. That is the way it will stay!
The fact is that there should be no more world wars – especially not between nuclear powers – that is also a lesson of 8 May.
Dear fellow citizens,
I cannot tell you today when and how Russia’s cruel war against Ukraine will end.
But one thing is clear: there will be no Russian dictatorship peace. The Ukrainians will not accept it – and neither will we.
Rarely have we stood as united with our friends and partners as we do today.
I am deeply convinced: Putin will not win the war. Ukraine will prevail. Freedom and security will win – just as freedom and security triumphed over unfreedom, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago over unfreedom, violence and dictatorship.
To contribute to this to the best of our ability today means “never again”!
Therein lies the legacy of 8 May.
Translated from German by Femi Awoniyi