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Statement by Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig at the Special Solemn Meeting U.N. commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War

07.05.2010 - Speech

The United Nations General Assembly held a special solemn meeting to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.Germany’s Ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, paid tribute to the victims of the war and stressed the special responsibility Germany had towards Israel in particular as a result of this history.

Mr. Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sixty-five years ago, the guns fell silent in the battlefields all over Europe, marking the end of the Second World War, the bloodiest and deadliest conflict that humankind has ever known.

Today, we humbly bow our heads to pay tribute to the countless victims of the Second World War – men, women and children, civilians and soldiers alike, citizens of many of the nations assembled here today – who lost their lives, their loved ones or their livelihood in this terrible war. Among them are also the victims of the Holocaust whose fate we commemorated in this hall only a few weeks ago.

The outbreak of the Second World War remains linked with the name of my country. It was Germany that brought unspeakable suffering upon its neighbours and, as a consequence, also upon its own citizens. I stand before you today to reaffirm that my country has accepted its responsibility for the crimes committed by Nazi Germany. This responsibility we will never abdicate.

Excellencies,

Today, we also remember the soldiers of the allied forces – Americans, Soviets, British, French and others – , who sacrificed their lives to liberate Europe from the inhumanity and tyranny of the Nazi regime. Because indeed, the early days of May of 1945 were a time of liberation for Germany and for large parts of Europe.

Following the end of the Second World War, the Western part of my country was presented with a unique opportunity for a fresh start, culturally and politically, built on the cornerstones of democracy, human dignity and human rights. In 1989, the citizens of East Germany and of our Eastern European neighbours successfully initiated a peaceful revolution in order to partake in these values as well.

Excellencies,

The Permanent Representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, has recalled how the project of European integration successfully implemented a utopian vision of peace on a continent that had been ravaged by centuries of bloody confrontation. Germany remains committed to further deepening European integration.

Also, reconciliation with Russia and the other States that gained their indepence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union is of special significance for us, considering the enormous price their peoples paid during the war. That is why the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is honoured to attend the commemorative ceremonies to be held in Moscow in a few days.

In view of the suffering of the Baltic States, we have always felt an obligation to strongly support their integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. Poland was a victim of particularly brutal Nazi aggression; we are all the more grateful that our relationship with Poland has developed into a true European friendship. That holds true also for our Central European partners.

Our moral responsibility for the Holocaust, this despicable crime against humanity, entails a particular obligation for Germany towards the State of Israel.

Excellencies,

while much of the world still lay in ruins, delegates gathered in San Francisco to repair the fabric of international relations and to provide the world with tools to peacefully manage the world’s affairs in order to prevent global catastrophes like the Second World War from ever happening again. The product of their efforts, the United Nations, is the practical expression of their shared hopes for a better world.

Germany is grateful for having been given the opportunity to take part in this unique, challenging and indispensable project. We remain committed to supporting the world organisation in all its fields of activity. The international community can count on us.

Excellencies,

Since its establishment in 1945 the United Nations have come a long way. And yet, the founding principles of the world organization remain relevant to this day.

In many parts of the world, we have not yet succeeded in achieving the vision so vividly described in the preamble of the UN Charter: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to establish conditions und which human rights and justice can prosper, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

Excellencies,

we can yet achieve those aspirations; we can build a safer, more just and more prosperous world; we can overcome the challenges – if we learn the lessons of the past.

The legacy of the horrors of the Second World War, the legacy of the countless victims – they commit us and they command us to strive to attain those common goals together.

I thank you.

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