May 8th, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe - the military defeat of Germany and the liberation of Germany from National Socialism. The anniversary is usually marked with ceremonies including guests from across the world and across Europe, but this year - due to the COVID-19 pandemic - the ceremony in Berlin featured only the Federal President, the Chancellor, the Presidents of the Chambers of Parliament, and the President of the Federal Constitutional Court.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivered a moving speech on the importance of the anniversary, the relevance of the painful history of Germany and its essential lessons for democracy, peace, and European unity:
"Perhaps this state of being alone will return us in our minds to 8 May 1945. On that date the Germans really were alone. Germany had suffered military defeat, political and economic ruin, and moral collapse. We had made enemies of the entire world.
" Today, 75 years later, we are forced to commemorate alone, but we are not alone! That is today’s good news. We live in a vigorous and well-established democracy, in a country that has been reunified for 30 years, at the heart of a peaceful and united Europe. We are a trusted member of the international community and reap the fruits of cooperation and partnership around the world. We Germans can definitely now say that the day of liberation is a day of thanksgiving!
""Human dignity shall be inviolable." This first sentence of our constitution is and remains a public reminder of what happened in Auschwitz, of what happened in the war and during the dictatorship. It is not remembrance that is a burden – it is non-remembrance that becomes a burden.
It is not professing responsibility that is shameful – it is denial that is shameful!"
The full text of President Steinmeier's speech is available through the office of the Federal President