These days we are moved by the memory of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. These are very emotional moments not only for our American friends. The attacks shocked us all. The first attack was one of those moments in life that one doesn’t forget. I still know exactly where I was at 8:46 a.m. U.S. time, or 2:46 p.m. German time, and where I learned the news and saw the horrific images. Many innocent people died; families and relatives were traumatized – and still are today. Then as now, our thoughts and condolences go out to the victims and their families.
Moved by enormous sympathy and compassion, hundreds of thousands of our fellow Germans demonstrated their sorrow, their sympathy, and their solidarity, not only in America but in many parts of the world, in all of Germany, and very visibly in Berlin. They thus wanted to send a message against the inhumanity of terror.
When, immediately following September 11, the German Embassy called on our fellow countrymen and German companies to make donations for the victims and their families, it received an overwhelming response.
The German American Solidarity Fund was born. Various organizations, such as the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Northern Virginia Family Service, and the Brücke New York-Berlin, were thus able to help many victims and their families quickly and without any red tape.
For Germany, it was immediately clear: we stand in full solidarity with the United States. On September 12, 2001, our joint alliance, NATO, for the first time in its history invoked Article 5 of its treaty, the mutual defense clause. The attack on the United States was an attack on all of us.
Germany and the United States are reliable partners in the fight against international terrorism. For nearly 10 years now, Germany, has been working for a peaceful and democratic development in Afghanistan – as the third largest troop contributor to the NATO-led ISAF mission, through police training, through the construction of schools, and through massive amounts of aid for the economic development of the country.
This 10th anniversary gives us occasion to remember all the victims of the terror of September 11, 2001. In a spontaneous gesture, the German naval crew of the frigate Lütjens signaled the message “We Stand by you,” as it passed the American Navy in the Mediterranean Sea.
I say, “We stand by you” on the 10th anniversary of a catastrophe which must never happen again.