On 22 June 1941 – 75 years ago – Germany invaded the Soviet Union. More than 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union lost their lives fighting to defend their country and during the extermination operations of German SS and Wehrmacht units. The war ended with the occupation of Berlin by the Red Army. Not only was the entire European part of the Soviet Union devastated, but Germany, too, was almost totally destroyed. Conclusions from the war experience were drawn only insufficiently in Europe after 1945. The Cold War divided Europe into West and East. It took decades for the policies of détente to open ways to co-operation and dialogue. At last borders that had emerged from World War II were agreed upon in legally binding international treaties. After the German Reunification in 1990 the end of the conflict between East and West was solemnly proclaimed in the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe”.
However, today – 75 years after Hitler Germany´s invasion of the Soviet Union – we live through times of confrontation and arms races yet again. Therefore this 75th anniversary of 22 June 1941 is a day of current challenges.
We urge Europeans to draw conclusions from the most devastating war in their history at last: for a new quality of German-Russian relations. Economic relations between Germany and Russia are of utmost importance to both countries. Russian art, literature, music and ballet are pillars of European culture as well as their German counterparts. This may constitute the basis for friendly relations, open to discuss different political concepts and compete in the best sense of discourse. This has to include mutual critique of erroneous societal developments and measures. All relations and formats where talks are still possible have to be utilised in order to prevent another armed conflict between Germany and Russia for all future.
Disarmament is necessary, in order to meet social challenges and contribute to solving the global problems of the 21st century. A total ban of nuclear weapons is a crucial pre-condition for the survival of humankind. Instead of building rocket launching bases in Eastern Europe and deploying German troops to the borders of Russia – as in the currently planned formation of four NATO battalions in Poland and the Baltic states, one of them in Lithuania under German command – we need to strengthen institutions of collective security like the OSCE. In the Paris NATO-Russia agreement of 27 May 1997 NATO explicitly refrained from permanently stationing fighting troops in Eastern Europe. All parties of the treaty had declared that they are no enemies and that security of all states in the Euro-Atlantic commonwealth is indivisible. It is necessary to return to those commitments and insights in the near future and stop the policies of mutual economic sanctions. Helmut Schmidt was right to emphasise in his open letter to Helmut Kohl on 18 December 2014, that the West, just like Russia and Ukraine, should be careful not to jeopardise all that had been gained in decades of hard work.
On this historic anniversary of 22 June 2016 we appeal to Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and the German Federal Government: Only a policy of détente with Russia and commitment to international law, with efforts to solve problems as well as conflicting interests, will provide perspectives of a peaceful future in Europe.
We know for sure: In order to achieve this goal, it will take the commitment of the peace movement as well as all citizens who believe in a peaceful future of our Common European Home.
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(Translation Current Concerns)
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