Historical Archives

#024  「荒れ野の40年」

ワイツゼッカー連邦大統領演説全文

2015.8.16

             「荒れ野の40年」
         ワイツゼッカー連邦大統領演説全文
(1985年5月8日)

 1985年5月8日に西ドイツの連邦議会でエルンスト・フォン・ヴァイツゼッカー

(Richard von Weizsäcker)大統領が行った敗戦40周年を記念する演説の全文。
 この中の特に「過去に目を閉ざす者は結局のところ現在にも盲目となる」の一節

が有名になった。ただし、若干異論もあるようだ。
 2015年8月14日の安倍晋三総理大臣談話と比較して読むのも意義があろう。

◉ スピーチ和訳


 5月8日は心に刻むための日であります。心に刻むというのは、ある出来事が自らの内面の一部となるよう、これを信誠かつ純粋に思い浮かべることであります。そのためには、われわれが真実を求めることが大いに必要とされます。
 われわれは今日、戦いと暴力支配とのなかで斃れたすべての人びとを哀しみのうちに思い浮かべておりす。
 ことにドイツの強制収容所で命を奪われた 600万のユダヤ人を思い浮かべます。
戦いに苦しんだすべての民族、なかんずくソ連・ポーランドの無数の死者を思い浮かべます。
 ドイツ人としては、兵士として斃れた同胞、そして故郷の空襲で捕われの最中に、あるいは故郷を追われる途中で命を失った同胞を哀しみのうちに思い浮かべます。
 虐殺されたジィンティ・ロマ(ジプシー)、殺された同性愛の人びと、殺害された精神病患者、宗教もしくは政治上の信念のゆえに死なねばならなかった人びとを思い浮かべます。
 銃殺された人質を思い浮かべます。
 ドイツに占領されたすべての国のレジスタンスの犠牲者に思いをはせます。
 ドイツ人としては、市民としての、軍人としての、そして信仰にもとづいてのドイツのレジスタンス、労働者や労働組合のレジスタンス、共産主義者のレジスタンス――これらのレジスタンスの犠牲者を思い浮かべ、敬意を表します。
 積極的にレジスタンスに加わることはなかったものの、良心をまげるよりはむしろ死を選んだ人びとを思い浮かべます。
 はかり知れないほどの死者のかたわらに、人間の悲嘆の山並みがつづいております。
 死者への悲嘆、傷つき、障害を負った悲嘆、非人間的な強制的不妊手術による悲嘆、空襲の夜の悲嘆、故郷を追われ、暴行・掠奪され、強制労働につかされ、不正と拷問、飢えと貧窮に悩まされた悲嘆、捕われ殺されはしないかという不安による悲嘆、迷いつつも信じ、働く目標であったものを全て失ったことの悲嘆――こうした悲嘆の山並みです。
 今日われわれはこうした人間の悲嘆を心に刻み、悲悼の念とともに思い浮かべているのであります。
 人びとが負わされた重荷のうち、最大の部分をになったのは多分、各民族の女性たちだったでしょう。
 彼女たちの苦難、忍従、そして人知れぬ力を世界史は、余りにもあっさりと忘れてしまうものです(拍手)。彼女たちは不安に脅えながら働き、人間の生命を支え護ってきました。戦場で斃れた父や息子、夫、兄弟、友人たちを悼んできました。この上なく暗い日々にあって、人間性の光が消えないよう守りつづけたのは彼女たちでした。
 暴力支配が始まるにあたって、ユダヤ系の同胞に対するヒトラーの底知れぬ憎悪がありました。ヒトラーは公の場でもこれを隠しだてしたことはなく、全ドイツ民族をその憎悪の道具としたのです。ヒトラーは1945年 4月30日の(自殺による)死の前日、いわゆる遺書の結びに「指導者と国民に対し、ことに人種法を厳密に遵守し、かつまた世界のあらゆる民族を毒する国際ユダヤ主義に対し仮借のない抵抗をするよう義務づける」と書いております。
 歴史の中で戦いと暴力とにまき込まれるという罪――これと無縁だった国が、ほとんどないことは事実であります。しかしながら、ユダヤ人を人種としてことごとく抹殺する、というのは歴史に前例を見ません。
 この犯罪に手を下したのは少数です。公けの目にはふれないようになっていたのであります。しかしながら、ユダヤ系の同国民たちは、冷淡に知らぬ顔をされたり、底意のある非寛容な態度をみせつけられたり、さらには公然と憎悪を投げつけられる、といった辛酸を嘗めねばならなかったのですが、これはどのドイツ人でも見聞きすることができました。
 シナゴーグの放火、掠奪、ユダヤの星のマークの強制着用、法の保護の剥奪、人間の尊厳に対するとどまることを知らない冒涜があったあとで、悪い事態を予想しないでいられた人はいたでありましょうか。
 目を閉じず、耳をふさがずにいた人びと、調べる気のある人たちなら、(ユダヤ人を強制的に)移送する列車に気づかないはずはありませんでした。人びとの想像力は、ユダヤ人絶滅の方法と規模には思い及ばなかったかもしれません。しかし現実には、犯罪そのものに加えて、余りにも多くの人たちが実際に起こっていたことを知らないでおこうと努めていたのであります。当時まだ幼く、ことの計画・実施に加わっていなかった私の世代も例外ではありません。
 良心を麻痺させ、それは自分の権限外だとし、目を背け、沈黙するには多くの形がありました。戦いが終り、筆舌に尽しがたいホロコースト(大虐殺)の全貌が明らかになったとき、一切何も知らなかった、気配も感じなかった、と言い張った人は余りにも多かったのであります。
 一民族全体に罪がある、もしくは無実である、というようなことはありません。罪といい無実といい、集団的ではなく個人的なものであります。
人間の罪には、露見したものもあれば隠しおおせたものもあります。告白した罪もあれば否認し通した罪もあります。充分に自覚してあの時代を生きてきた方がた、その人たちは今日、一人ひとり自分がどう関り合っていたかを静かに自問していただきたいのであります。
 今日の人口の大部分はあの当時子どもだったか、まだ生まれてもいませんでした。この人たちは自分が手を下してはいない行為に対して自らの罪を告白することはできません。
 ドイツ人であるというだけの理由で、彼らが悔い改めの時に着る荒布の質素な服を身にまとうのを期待することは、感情をもった人間にできることではありません。しかしながら先人は彼らに容易ならざる遺産を残したのであります。
罪の有無、老幼いずれを問わず、われわれ全員が過去を引き受けねばなりません。全員が過去からの帰結に関り合っており、過去に対する責任を負わされているのであります。
 心に刻みつづけることがなぜかくも重要であるかを理解するため、老幼たがいに助け合わねばなりません。また助け合えるのであります。
 問題は過去を克服することではありません。さようなことができるわけはありません。後になって過去を変えたり、起こらなかったことにするわけにはまいりません。しかし過去に目を閉ざす者は結局のところ現在にも盲目となります。非人間的な行為を心に刻もうとしない者は、またそうした危険に陥りやすいのです。
 ユダヤ民族は今も心に刻み、これからも常に心に刻みつづけるでありましょう。われわれは人間として心からの和解を求めております。
 まさしくこのためにこそ、心に刻むことなしに和解はありえない、という一事を理解せねばならぬのです。
 物質面での復興という課題と並んで、精神面での最初の課題は、さまざまな運命の恣意に耐えるのを学ぶことでありました。ここにおいて、他の人びとの重荷に目を開き、常に相ともにこの重荷を担い、忘れ去ることをしないという、人間としての力が試されていたのであります。またその課題の中から、平和への能力、そして内外との心からの和解への心構えが育っていかねばならなかったのであります。これこそ他人から求められていただけでなく、われわれ自身が衷心から望んでいたことでもあったのです。
 かつて敵側だった人びとが和睦しようという気になるには、どれほど自分に打ち克たねばならなかったか―― このことを忘れて5月8日を思い浮かべることはわれわれには許されません。ワルシャワのゲットーで、そしてチェコのリジィツェ村で虐殺された犠牲者たち(1942年、ナチスの高官を暗殺したことに対する報復としてプラハ近郊のこの村をナチスは完全に破壊した。)――われわれは本当にその親族の気持になれるものでありましょうか。
 ロッテルダムやロンドンの市民にとっても、ついこの間まで頭上から爆弾の雨を降らしていたドイツの再建を助けるなどというのは、どんなに困難なことだったでありましょう。そのためには、ドイツ人が二度と再び暴力で敗北に修正を加えることはない、という確信がしだいに深まっていく必要がありました。
 ドイツの側では故郷を追われた人びとが一番の辛苦を味わいました。5月8日をはるかに過ぎても、はげしい悲嘆と甚だしい不正とにさらされていたのであります。もともとの土地にいられたわれわれには、彼らの苛酷な運命を理解するだけの想像力と感受性が欠けていることが稀ではありませんでした。
 しかし救援の手を差しのべる動きもただちに活発となりました。故郷を捨てたり追われた何百万人という人びとを受け入れたのであります。歳月が経つにつれ彼らは新しい土地に定着していきました。彼らの子どもたち、孫たちは、いろいろな形で父祖の地の文化とそこへの郷土愛とに結びついております。それはそれで結構です。彼らの人生にとって貴重な宝物だからであります。
 しかし彼ら自身は新しい故郷を見出し、同じ年配の土地の仲間たちと共に成長し、とけ合い、土地の言葉をしゃべり、その習慣を身につけております。彼らの若い生命こそ内面の平和の能力の証しなのであります。彼らの祖父母、父母たちはかつては追われる身でした。しかし彼ら若い人びと自身は今や土地の人間なのです。
 故郷を追われた人びとは、早々とそして模範的な形で武力不行使を表明いたしました。力のなかった初期のころのその場かぎりの言葉ではなく、今日にも通じる表白であります。武力不行使とは、活力を取り戻したあとになってもドイツがこれを守りつづけていく、という信頼を各方面に育てていくことを意味しております。
 この間に自分たちの故郷は他の人びとの故郷となってしまいました。東方の多く古い墓地では、今日すでにドイツ人の墓よりポーランド人の墓の方が多くなっております。
 何百万ものドイツ人が西への移動を強いられたあと、何百万のポーランド人が、そして何百万のロシア人が移動してまいりました。いずれも意向を尋ねられることがなく、不正に堪えてきた人びとでした。無抵抗に政治につき従わざるをえない人びと、不正に対しどんな補償をし、それぞれに正当ないい分をかみ合わせてみたところで、彼らの身の上に加えられたことについての埋合せをしてあげるわけにいかない人びとなのであります。
 5月8日のあとの運命に押し流され、以来何十年とその地に住みついている人びと、この人びとに政治に煩らわされることのない持続的な将来の安全を確保すること――これこそ武力不行使の今日の意味であります。法律上の主張で争うよりも、理解し合わねばならぬという誡めを優先させることであります。
 これがヨーロッパの平和的秩序のためにわれわれがなしうる本当の、人間としての貢献に他なりません。
 1945年に始まるヨーロッパの新スタートは、自由と自決の考えに勝利と敗北の双方をもたらすこととなりました。自らの力が優越していてこそ平和が可能であり確保されていると全ての国が考え、平和とは次の戦いの準備期間であった――こうした時期がヨーロッパ史の上で長くつづいたのでありますが、われわれはこれに終止符をうつ好機を拡大していかなくてはなりません。
 ヨーロッパの諸民族は自らの故郷を愛しております。ドイツ人とて同様であります。自らの故郷を忘れうる民族が平和に愛情を寄せるなどということを信じるわけにまいりましょうか。
 いや、平和への愛とは、故郷を忘れず、まさにそのためにこそ、いつも互いに平和で暮せるよう全力を挙げる決意をしていることであります。追われたものが故郷に寄せる愛情は、復讐主義ではないのであります。      
 戦後四年たった1949年の本日5月8日、議会評議会は基本法を承認いたしました。議会評議会の民主主義者たちは、党派の壁を越え、われわれの憲法(基本法)の第一条(第二項)に戦いと暴力支配に対する回答を記しております。
 ドイツ国民は、それゆえに、世界における各人間共同社会・平和および正義の基礎として、不可侵の、かつ、譲渡しえない人権をみとめる
 5月8日がもつこの意味についても今日心に刻む必要があります。
 戦いが終ったころ、多くのドイツ人が自らのパスポートをかくしたり、他国のパスポートと交換しようといたしましたが、今日われわれの国籍をもつことは、高い評価を受ける権利であります。
 傲慢、独善的である理由は毫もありません。しかしながらもしわれわれが、現在の行動とわれわれに課せられている未解決の課題へのガイドラインとして自らの歴史の記憶を役立てるなら、この40年間の歩みを心に刻んで感謝することは許されるでありましょう。
――第三帝国において精神病患者が殺害されたことを心に刻むなら、精神を病んでいる市民に暖かい目を注ぐことはわれわれ自身の課題であると理解することでありましょう。
――人種、宗教、政治上の理由から迫害され、目前の死に脅えていた人びとに対し、しばしば他の国の国境が閉ざされていたことを心に刻むなら、今日不当に迫害され、われわれに保護を求める人びとに対し門戸を閉ざすことはないでありましょう(拍手)。
――独裁下において自由な精神が迫害されたことを熟慮するなら、いかなる思想、いかなる批判であれ、そして、たとえそれがわれわれ自身にきびしい矢を放つものであったとしても、その思想、批判の自由を擁護するでありましょう。
――中東情勢についての判断を下すさいには、ドイツ人がユダヤ人同胞にもたらした運命がイスラエルの建国のひき金となったこと、そのさいの諸条件が今日なおこの地域の人びとの重荷となり、人びとを危険に曝しているのだ、ということを考えていただきたい。
――東側の隣人たちの戦時中の艱難を思うとき、これらの諸国との対立解消、緊張緩和、平和な隣人関係がドイツ外交政策の中心課題でありつづけることの理解が深まるでありましょう。双方が互いに心に刻み合い、たがいに尊敬し合うことが求められているのであり、人間としても、文化の面でも、そしてまたつまるところ歴史的にも、そうであってしかるべき理由があるのであります。
ソ連共産党のゴルバチョフ書記長は、ソ連指導部には大戦終結40年目にあたって反ドイツ感情をかきたてるつもりはないと言明いたしました。ソ連は諸民族の間の友情を支持する、というのであります。
 東西間の理解、そしてまた全ヨーロッパにおける人権尊重に対するソ連の貢献について問いかけている時であればこそ、モスクワからのこうした兆しを見のがしてはなりますまい。われわれはソ連邦諸民族との友情を望んでおるのであります。
人間の一生、民族の運命にあって、40年という歳月は大きな役割を果たしております。
 当時責任ある立場にいた父たちの世代が完全に交替するまでに40年が必要だったのです。
 われわれのもとでは新しい世代が政治の責任をとれるだけに成長してまいりました。若い人たちにかつて起ったことの責任はありません。しかし、(その後の)歴史のなかでそうした出来事から生じてきたことに対しては責任があります。
 われわれ年長者は若者に対し、夢を実現する義務は負っておりません。われわれの義務は率直さであります。心に刻みつづけるということがきわめて重要なのはなぜか、このことを若い人びとが理解できるよう手助けせねばならないのです。ユートピア的な救済論に逃避したり、道徳的に傲慢不遜になったりすることなく、歴史の真実を冷静かつ公平に見つめることができるよう、若い人びとの助力をしたいと考えるのであります。
 人間は何をしかねないのか――これをわれわれは自らの歴史から学びます。でありますから、われわれは今や別種の、よりよい人間になったなどと思い上がってはなりません。
 道徳に究極の完成はありえません――いかなる人間にとっても、また、いかなる土地においてもそうであります。われわれは人間として学んでまいりました。これからも人間として危険に曝されつづけるでありましょう。しかし、われわれにはこうした危険を繰り返し乗り越えていくだけの力がそなわっております。
ヒトラーはいつも、偏見と敵意と憎悪とをかきたてつづけることに腐心しておりました。
 若い人たちにお願いしたい。
 他の人びとに対する敵意や憎悪に駆り立てられることのないようにしていただきたい。
 ロシア人やアメリカ人、ユダヤ人やトルコ人、オールタナティヴを唱える人びとや保守主義者、黒人や白人
 これらの人たちに対する敵意や憎悪に駆り立てられることのないようにしていただきたい。
 若い人たちは、たがいに敵対するのではなく、たがいに手をとり合って生きていくことを学んでいただきたい。
 民主的に選ばれたわれわれ政治家にもこのことを肝に銘じさせてくれる諸君であってほしい。そして範を示してほしい。
 自由を尊重しよう。
 平和のために尽力しよう。
 公正をよりどころにしよう。
 正義については内面の規範に従おう。
 今日5月8日にさいし、能うかぎり真実を直視しようではありませんか。

◉ スピーチ英訳


Speech by President Richard von Weizsäcker during the Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the End of War in Europe and of National-Socialist Tyrannyon 8 May 1985 at the Bundestag, Bonn 

I. 
Many nations are today commemorating the date on which World War II ended in Europe. Every nation is doing so with different feelings, depending on its fate. Be it victory or defeat, liberation from injustice and alien rule or transition to new dependence, division, new alliances, vast shifts of power – 8 May 1945 is a date of decisive historical importance for Europe. 
We Germans are commemorating that date amongst ourselves, as is indeed necessary. We must find our own standards. We are not assisted in this task if we or others spare our feelings. We need and we have the strength to look truth straight in the eye – without embellishment and without distortion. 
For us, the 8th of May is above all a date to remember what people had to suffer. It is also a date to reflect on the course taken by our history. The greater honesty we show in commemorating this day, the freer we are to face the consequences with due responsibility. For us Germans, 8 May is not a day of celebration. Those who actually witnessed that day in 1945 think back on highly personal and hence highly different experiences. Some returned home, others lost their homes. Some were liberated, whilst for others it was the start of captivity. Many were simply grateful that the bombing at night and fear had passed and that they had survived. Others felt first and foremost grief at the complete defeat suffered by their country. Some Germans felt bitterness about their shattered illusions, whilst others were grateful for the gift of a new start. 
It was difficult to find one's bearings straight away. Uncertainty prevailed throughout the country. The military capitulation was unconditional, placing our destiny in the hands of our enemies. The past had been terrible, especially for many of those enemies, too. Would they not make us pay many times over for what we had done to them? Most Germans had believed that they were fighting and suffering for the good of their country. And now it turned out that their efforts were not only in vain and futile, but had served the inhuman goals of a criminal regime. The feelings of most people were those of exhaustion, despair and new anxiety. Had one's next of kin survived? Did a new start from those ruins make sense at all? Looking back, they saw the dark abyss of the past and, looking forward, they saw an uncertain, dark future. 
Yet with every day something became clearer, and this must be stated on behalf of all of us today: the 8th of May was a day of liberation. It liberated all of us from the inhumanity and tyranny of the National-Socialist regime. 
Nobody will, because of that liberation, forget the grave suffering that only started for many people on 8 May. But we must not regard the end of the war as the cause of flight, expulsion and deprivation of freedom. The cause goes back to the start of the tyranny that brought about war. We must not separate 8 May 1945 from 30 January 1933. 
There is truly no reason for us today to participate in victory celebrations. But there is every reason for us to perceive 8 May 1945 as the end of an aberration in German history, an end bearing seeds of hope for a better future. 
II. 
8 May is a day of remembrance. Remembering means recalling an occurrence honestly and undistortedly so that it becomes a part of our very beings. This places high demands on our truthfulness. 
Today we mourn all the dead of the war and the tyranny. In particular we commemorate the six million Jews who were murdered in German concentration camps. We commemorate all nations who suffered in the war, especially the countless citizens of the Soviet Union and Poland who lost their lives. As Germans, we mourn our own compatriots who perished as soldiers, during air raids at home, in captivity or during expulsion. We commemorate the Sinti and Romany gypsies, the homosexuals and the mentally ill who were killed, as well as the people who had to die for their religious or political beliefs. We commemorate the hostages who were executed. We recall the victims of the resistance movements in all the countries occupied by us. As Germans, we pay homage to the victims of the German resistance – among the public, the military, the churches, the workers and trade unions, and the communists. We commemorate those who did not actively resist, but preferred to die instead of violating their consciences. 
Alongside the endless army of the dead, mountains of human suffering arise – grief at the dead, suffering from injury or crippling or barbarous compulsory sterilization, suffering during the air raids, during flight and expulsion, suffering because of rape and pillage, forced labour, injustice and torture, hunger and hardship, suffering because of fear of arrest and death, grief at the loss of everything which one had wrongly believed in and worked for. Today we sorrowfully recall all this human suffering. 
Perhaps the greatest burden was borne by the women of all nations. Their suffering, renunciation and silent strength are all too easily forgotten by history. Filled with fear, they worked, bore human life and protected it. They mourned their fallen fathers and sons, husbands, brothers and friends. In the years of darkness, they ensured that the light of humanity was not extinguished. After the war, with no prospect of a secure future, women everywhere were the first to set about building homes again, the "rubble women" in Berlin and elsewhere. When the men who had survived returned, women often had to take a back seat again. Because of the war, many women were left alone and spent their lives in solitude. Yet it is first and foremost thanks to the women that nations did not disintegrate spiritually on account of the destruction, devastation, atrocities and inhumanity and that they gradually regained their foothold after the war. 
III. 
At the root of the tyranny was Hitler's immeasurable hatred against our Jewish compatriots. Hitler had never concealed this hatred from the public, but made the entire nation a tool of it. Only a day before his death, on 30 April 1945, he concluded his so-called will with the words: "Above all, I call upon the leaders of the nation and their followers to observe painstakingly the race laws and to oppose ruthlessly the poisoners of all nations: international Jewry.” lt is true that hardly any country has in its history always remained free from blame for war or violence. The genocide of the Jews is, however, unparalleled in history. 
The perpetration of this crime was in the hands of a few people. It was concealed from the eyes of the public, but every German was able to witness what his Jewish compatriots had to suffer, ranging from plain apathy and hidden intolerance to outright hatred. Who could remain unsuspecting after the burning of the synagogues, the plundering, the stigmatization with the Star of David, the deprivation of rights, the ceaseless violation of human dignity? Whoever opened his eyes and ears and sought information could not fail to notice that Jews were being deported. The nature and scope of the destruction may have exceeded human imagination, but in reality there was, apart from the crime itself, the attempt by too many people, including those of my generation, who were young and were not involved in planning the events and carrying them out, not to take note of what was happening. There were many ways of not burdening one's conscience, of shunning responsibility, looking away, keeping mum. When the unspeakable truth of the Holocaust then became known at the end of the war, all too many of us claimed that they had not known anything about it or even suspected anything. 
There is no such thing as the guilt or innocence of an entire nation. Guilt is, like innocence, not collective, but personal. There is discovered or concealed individual guilt. There is guilt which people acknowledge or deny. Everyone who directly experienced that era should today quietly ask himself about his involvement then. 
The vast majority of today's population were either children then or bad not been born. They cannot profess a guilt of their own for crimes that they did not commit. No discerning person can expect them to wear a penitential robe simply because they are Germans. But their forefathers have left them a grave legacy. All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it. The young and old generations must and can help each other to understand why it is vital to keep alive the memories. lt is not a case of coming to terms with the past. That is not possible. It cannot be subsequently modified or made undone. However, anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present. Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection. 
The Jewish nation remembers and will always remember. We seek reconciliation as human beings. Precisely for this reason we must understand that there can be no reconciliation without remembrance. The experience of millionfold death is part of the very being of every Jew in the world, not only because people cannot forget such atrocities, but also because remembrance is part of the Jewish faith. 
"Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance?” This oft quoted Jewish adage surely expresses the idea that faith in God is faith in the work of God in history. Remembrance is experience of the work of God in history. It is the source of faith in redemption. This experience creates hope, it creates faith in redemption, in reunification of the divided, in reconciliation. Whoever forgets this experience loses his faith. 
If we for our part sought to forget what has occurred, instead of remembering it, this would not only be inhuman. We would also impinge upon the faith of the Jews who survived and destroy the basis of reconciliation. We must erect a memorial to thoughts and feelings in our own hearts. 
IV. 
The 8th of May marks a deep cut not only in German history but in the history of Europe as a whole. The European civil war had come to an end, the old world of Europe lay in ruins. "Europe had fought itself to a standstill" (M. Stürmer). The meeting of American and Soviet Russian soldiers on the Elbe became a symbol for the temporary end of a European era. 
True, all this was deeply rooted in history. The Europeans had a great, indeed dominating influence in the world, but they were less and less capable of maintaining orderly relations among themselves on their own continent. For more than a century Europe had suffered under the clash of extreme nationalistic aspirations. At the end of the First World War peace treaties were signed but they lacked the power to foster peace. Once more nationalistic passions flared up and were fanned by the distress of the people at that time. 
Along the road to disaster Hitler became the driving force. He whipped up and exploited mass hysteria. A weak democracy was incapable of stopping him. And even the powers of Western Europe – in Churchill's judgement unsuspecting but not without guilt – contributed through their weakness to this fateful trend. After the First World War America had withdrawn and in the thirties had no influence on Europe. 
Hitler wanted to dominate Europe and to do so through war. He looked for and found an excuse in Poland. On 23 May 1939 – only a few months before the Outbreak of war – he told the German generals: "No further successes can be gained without bloodshed ... Danzig is not the objective. Our aim is to extend our Lebensraum in the East and safeguard food supplies ... So there is no question of sparing Poland; and there remains the decision to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity ... In this context, neither right nor wrong nor treaties matter?” 
On 23 August 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non- aggression pact. The secret supplementary protocol made provision for the impending partition of Poland. That pact was made to give Hitler an opportunity to invade Poland. The Soviet leaders at the time were fully aware of this. And all who understood politics realized that the implications of the German-Soviet pact were Hitler's invasion of Poland and hence the Second World War. 
That does not mitigate Germany's responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War. The Soviet Union was prepared to allow other nations to fight one another so that it could have a share of the spoils. The initiative for the war, however, came from Germany, not from the Soviet Union. It was Hitler who resorted to the use of force. 
The outbreak of the Second World War remains linked with the name of Germany. 
In the course of that war the Nazi regime tormented and defiled many nations. At the end of it all only one nation remained to be tormented, enslaved and defiled: its own, the German nation. Time and again Hitler had declared that if the German nation was not capable of winning the war it should be left to perish. The other nations first became victims of a war started by Germany before we became the victims of our own war. 
There followed the division of Germany into zones as agreed among the victorious powers. In the meantime the Soviet Union had taken control in all countries of Eastern and South-eastern Europe that bad been occupied by Germany during the war. All of them, with the exception of Greece, became socialist states. The division of Europe into two different political systems took its course. True, it was the post-war developments which cemented that division, but without the war started by Hitler it would not have happened at all. That is what first comes to the minds of the nations concerned when they recall the war unleashed by the German leaders. And we think of that too when we ponder the division of our own country and the loss of huge sections of German territory. In a sermon in East Berlin commemorating the 8th of May, Cardinal Meißner said: “The pathetic result of sin is always division?” 
V. 
The arbitrariness of destruction continued to be felt in the arbitrary distribution of burdens. There were innocent people who were persecuted and guilty ones who got away. Some were lucky to be able to begin life all over again at home in familiar surroundings. Others were expelled from the lands of their fathers. We in what was to become the Federal Republic of Germany were given the priceless opportunity to live in freedom. Many millions of our countrymen have been denied that opportunity to this day. 
Learning to accept mentally this arbitrary allocation of fate was the first task, alongside the material task of rebuilding the country. That had to be the test of the human strength to recognize the burdens of others, to help bear them over time, not to forget them. It had to be the test of our ability to work for peace, of our willingness to foster the spirit of reconciliation both at home and in our external relations, an ability and a readiness which not only others expected of us but which we most of all demanded of ourselves. 
We cannot commemorate the 8th of May without being conscious of the great effort required on the part of our former enemies to set out on the road of reconciliation with us. Can we really place ourselves in the position of relatives of the victims of the Warsaw ghetto or of the 
Lidice massacre? And how hard must it have been for the citizens of Rotterdam or London to support the rebuilding of our country from where the bombs came which not long before had been dropped on their cities? To be able to do so they had gradually to gain the assurance that the Germans would not again try to make good their defeat by use of force. 
In our country the biggest sacrifice was demanded of those who had been driven out of their homeland. They were to experience great suffering and grievous injustice long after the 8th of May. Those of us who were born here often do not have the imagination nor the open heart with which to grasp the real meaning of their harsh fate. 
But soon there were great signs of readiness to help. Many millions of refugees and expellees were taken in who over the years were able to strike new roots. Their children and grandchildren have in many different ways formed a loving attachment to the culture and the homeland of their ancestors. Well that they have, for that is a great treasure in their lives. But they themselves have found a new home where they are growing up and integrating with the local people of the same age, sharing their dialect and their customs. Their young life is proof of their ability to be at peace with themselves. Their grandparents or parents were once driven out; they themselves, however, are now at home. 
Very soon and in exemplary fashion the expellees identified themselves with the renunciation of force. That was no passing declaration in the early stages of helplessness but a commitment which has retained its validity. Renouncing the use of force means allowing trust to grow on all sides; it means that a Germany that has regained its strength remains bound by it. The expellees' own homeland has meanwhile become a homeland for others. In many of the old cemeteries in Eastern Europe you will today find more Polish than German graves. The compulsory migration of millions of Germans to the West was followed by the migration of millions of Poles and, in their wake, millions of Russians. These are all people who were not asked, people who suffered injustice, people who became defenceless objects of political events and to whom no compensation for those injustices and no offsetting of claims can make up for what has been done to them. 
Renouncing force today means giving them lasting security, unchallenged on political grounds, for their future in the place where fate drove them after the 8th of May and were they have been living in the decades since. It means placing the dictate of understanding above conflicting legal claims. That is the true, the human contribution to a peaceful order in Europe which we can provide. 
The new beginning in Europe after 1945 has brought both victory and defeat for the notion of freedom and self-determination. Our aim is to seize the opportunity to draw a line under a long period of European history in which to every country peace seemed conceivable and safe only as a result of its own supremacy, and in which peace meant a period of preparation for the next war. 
The nations of Europe love their homeland. The Germans are no different. Who could trust in a nation's love of peace if it were capable of forgetting its homeland? No, love of peace manifests itself precisely in the fact that one does not forget one's homeland and is for that very reason resolved to do everything in one's power to live together with others in lasting peace. An expellee's love for his homeland is in no way revanchism. 
VI. 
The last war has aroused a stronger desire for peace in the hearts of men than in times past. The work of the churches in promoting reconciliation met with a tremendous response. There are many examples of practical efforts by young people to promote understanding. One is the ''Aktion Sühnezeichen", a campaign concentrating on atonement activity in Auschwitz and Israel. Recently, a parish in the town of Kleve on the lower Rhine received loaves of bread from Polish parishes as a token of reconciliation and fellowship. It sent one of those loaves to a teacher in England because he had discarded his anonymity and written to say that as a member of a bomber crew during the war he had destroyed the church and houses in Kleve and wanted to take part in some gesture of reconciliation. In seeking peace it is a tremendous help if, instead of waiting for the other to come to us, we go towards him, as this man did. 
VII. 
In the wake of the war, old enemies were brought closer together both as human beings and politically. As early as 1946, the American Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, called in his memorable Stuttgart address for understanding in Europe and for assistance to the German nation on its way to a free and peaceable future. Innumerable Americans assisted us Germans, who had lost the war, with their own private means so as to heal the wounds of war. Thanks to the vision of Frenchmen like Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman and of Germans like Konrad Adenauer, the traditional enmity between the French and Germans was buried forever. 
A new will and energy to reconstruct Germany surged through the country. Many an old trench was filled in, religious differences and social strains were defused. People set to work in a spirit of partnership. 
There was no "zero hour", but we had the opportunity to make a fresh start. We have used this opportunity as well as we could. 
We have put democratic freedom in the place of oppression. Four years after the end of the war, on this 8th of May in 1949, the Parliamentary Council adopted our Basic Law. Transcending party differences, the democrats on the Council gave their answer to war and tyranny in Article 1 of our Constitution: “The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of any community, of peace and of justice in the world?” This further significance of 8 May should also be remembered today. 
The Federal Republic of Germany has become an internationally respected State. It is one of the most highly developed industrial countries in the world. It knows that its economic strength commits it to share responsibility for the struggle against hunger and need in the world and for social adjustment between nations. For 40 years we have been living in peace and freedom, to which we, through our policy in union with the free nations of the Atlantic Alliance and the European Community, have ourselves rendered a major contribution. The freedom of the individual has never received better protection in Germany than it does today. A comprehensive system of social welfare that can stand comparison with any other ensures the subsistence of the population. Whereas at the end of the war many Germans tried to hide their passports or to exchange them for another one, German nationality today is highly valued. 
We certainly have no reason to be arrogant and self-righteous. But we may look back with gratitude on our development over these 40 years, if we use the memory of our own history as a guideline for our behaviour now and in tackling the unresolved problems that lie ahead. 
- If we remember that mentally disturbed persons were put to death in the Third Reich, we will see care of people with psychiatric disorders as our own responsibility. 
- If we remember how people persecuted on grounds of race, religion and politics and threatened with certain death often stood before the closed borders with other countries, we shall not close the door today on those who are genuinely persecuted and seek protection with us. 
- If we reflect on the penalties for free thinking under the dictatorship, we will protect the freedom of every idea and every criticism, however much it may be directed against ourselves. 
- Whoever criticizes the situation in the Middle East should think of the fate to which Germans condemned their Jewish fellow human beings, a fate that led to the establishment of the State of Israel under conditions which continue to burden and pose a danger to people in that region even today. 
- If we think of what our Eastern neighbours had to suffer during the war, we will find it easier to understand that accommodation, detente and peaceful neighbourly relations with these countries remain central tasks of German foreign policy. lt is important that both sides remember and that both sides respect each other. They have every reason to on human, on cultural and in the final analysis on historical grounds also. Mikhail Gorbachov, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, declared that it was not the intention of the Soviet leaders at the 40th anniversary of the end of the war to stir up anti- German feelings. The Soviet Union, he said, was committed to friendship between nations. Particularly if we have doubts about Soviet contributions to understanding between East and West and about respect for human rights in all parts of Europe, we must not ignore this signal from Moscow. We seek friendship with the peoples of the Soviet Union. 
VIII. 
Forty years after the end of the war, the German nation remains divided. 
At a commemorative service in the Church of the Holy Cross in Dresden held in February of this year, Bishop Hempel said: “It is a burden and a scourge that two German States have emerged with their harsh border. The very multitude of borders is a burden and a scourge. Weapons are a burden.” 
Recently in Baltimore in the United States, an exhibition on “Jews in Germany” was opened. The Ambassadors of both German States accepted the invitation to attend. The host, the President of the Johns Hopkins University, welcomed them together. He stated that all Germans share the same historical development. Their joint past is a bond that links them. Such a bond, he said, could be a blessing or a problem, but was always a source of hope. 
We Germans are one people and one nation. We feel that we belong together because we have lived through the same past. We also experienced the 8th of May 1945 as part of the common fate of our nation, which unites us. We feel bound together in our desire for peace. Peace and good neighbourly relations with all countries should radiate from the German soil in both States. And no other states should let that soil become a source of danger to peace either. The people of Germany are united in desiring a peace that encompasses justice and human rights for all peoples, including our own. Reconciliation that transcends boundaries cannot be provided by a walled Europe but only by a continent that removes the divisive elements from its borders. That is the exhortation given us by the end of the Second World War. We are confident that the 8th of May is not the last date in the common history of all Germans. 
IX. 
Many young people have in recent months asked themselves and us why such animated discussions about the past have arisen 40 years after the end of the war. Why are they more animated than after 25 or 30 years? What is the inherent necessity of this development? 
It is not easy to answer such questions. But we should not seek the reasons primarily in external influences, though they doubtlessly existed. In the life-span of men and in the destiny of nations, 40 years play a great role. Permit me at this point to return again to the Old Testament, which contains deep insights for every person, irrespective of his own faith. There, 40 years frequently play a vital part. The lsraelites were to remain in the desert for 40 years before a new stage in their history began with their arrival in the promised land. Forty years were required for a complete transfer of responsibility from the generation of the fathers. 
Yet elsewhere (in the Book of Judges) it is described how often the memory of experienced assistance and rescue lasted only for 40 years. When that memory faded, tranquility was at an end. Forty years thus invariably constitute a significant time-span. Man perceives them as the end of a dark age bringing hope for a new and prosperous future, or as the onset of danger that the past might be forgotten and as a warning of the consequences. It is worth reflecting on both of these perceptions. 
In our country, a new generation has grown up to assume political responsibility. Our young people are not responsible for what happened over forty years ago. But they are responsible for the historical consequences. 
We in the older generation owe to young people not the fulfilment of dreams but honesty. We must help younger people to understand why it is vital to keep memories alive. We want to help them to accept historical truth soberly, not one-sidedly, without taking refuge in utopian doctrines, but also without moral arrogance. From our own history we learn what man is capable of. For that reason we must not imagine that we are now quite different and have become better. There is no ultimately achievable moral perfection – for no individual and for no nation. We have learned as human beings, and as human beings we remain in danger. But we have the strength to overcome such danger again and again. 
Hitler's constant approach was to stir up prejudices, enmity and hatred. What is asked of young people today is this: do not let yourselves be forced into enmity and hatred of other people, of 
Russians or Americans, Jews or Turks, of alternatives or conservatives, blacks or whites. Learn to live together, not in opposition to each other. 
As democratically elected politicians, we, too, should heed this time and again and set a good example. 
Let us honour freedom.Let us work for peace.Let us respect the rule of law.Let us be true to our own conception of justice.On this 8th of May, let us face up as well as we can to the truth.