Frank-Walter Steinmeier

President of Germany since 2017

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (born 5 January, 1956) is a German politician serving as the president of Germany since 19 March 2017. He was previously the minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2009 and from 2013 to 2017, and vice-chancellor of Germany from 2007 to 2009. He was chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2016.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2018



Anniversary of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union

  • At the war's end, the death toll of the peoples of the Soviet Union numbered some 27 million. Twenty-seven million people were killed, murdered, bludgeoned, starved or left to die as a result of forced labour by National Socialist Germany. Fourteen million of them were civilians. No one had to mourn more victims in this war than the peoples of the then Soviet Union. And yet these millions are not as deeply etched in our collective memory as their suffering and our responsibility demand. This war was a crime – a monstrous, criminal war of aggression and annihilation.
  • Officials at the Reich Security Main Office planned the annihilation with cynical precision. They planned a war that declared the entire Soviet population – the entire Soviet population – to be the enemies, from newborn babies to the very old. The enemies were to be defeated not just militarily, but were also to be made to pay for the war imposed upon them themselves, with their lives, their property, with everything that was part of their existence. The entire European part of the Soviet Union, whole stretches of today's Ukraine and Belarus – and I quote from the orders – were to be "cleansed" and prepared for German colonisation. Metropolises such as Leningrad, present-day Saint Petersburg, Moscow or Kyiv, were to be razed to the ground.
  • Those who waged this war killed people in every imaginable way, with an unprecedented degree of brutality and cruelty. Those who were responsible for it, who in their national fanaticism even invoked German culture and civilisation, Goethe and Schiller, Bach and Beethoven, betrayed all civilised values, violated all principles of humanity and law. The German war against the Soviet Union was murderous barbarity. As difficult as we may find it, we must remember that. And when if not on anniversaries such as this. Remembering this inferno, this absolute enmity and the act of dehumanising the other – remembering this continues to be an obligation for us Germans and a memorial for the world.
  • We are here to remember the huge contribution of the men and women from the ranks of the Red Army who fought against Nazi Germany. We remember their courage and resolve, we remember the millions who risked and the many who lost their lives alongside their American, British and French allies as well as all the others, in order to free us all from the National Socialist tyranny. I profess my deep respect for their fight against – as Yehuda Bauer writes – "the worst regime that has ever disgraced this planet". I bow in sorrow before the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian victims – before all victims of the former Soviet Union.
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