Germany commemorates its liberation from the Nazis

For a long time in Germany, 8 May 1945 was viewed as the day of defeat. However, in 1985 Federal German President Richard von Weizsäcker stated unequivocally: It was the Day of Liberation.

„Es gibt kein Ende des Erinnerns“

Berlin (dpa) – This Friday, Germany commemorates the end of the Second World War and the liberation from the Nazis 75 years ago. With the Wehrmacht’s unconditional surrender, on 8 May 1945 the war that Hitler’s Germany had unleashed on Europe came to an end. Depending on the estimate, the war cost the lives of between 55 and in excess of 60 million people. Amongst them were around six million European Jews, murdered by the Nazis in their racial mania.

In Berlin today, the leaders of the five organs of state will celebrate this Day of Liberation. The plan starts with the laying of a wreath at Neue Wache, the Federal Republic of Germany’s central memorial for the victims of war and tyranny, after which German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will give a speech. Those present will include German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the presidents of the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and the Federal Constitutional Court – Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), Dietmar Woidke (SPD) and Andreas Vosskuhle respectively.

Originally, Steinmeier had decreed that 8 May would be marked by a “formal state act”, the highest possible form of commemoration of an event by the state. Hitherto there has only once ever been such a “state act” on 8 May, namely in 1995 under German Federal President Roman Herzog. Nevertheless, the formal occasion therefore planned for this Friday outside the Reichstag Building for 1,600 guests was cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic.