mb. The German internet platform “NachDenkSeiten” has published a moving letter of a retired district president of Brunswick, written on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. On 2 February 2018 no German official representative had come to Volgograd. Surprisingly many German media had reported on the celebrations with derision rather than with sympathy and grief. Karl-Wilhelm Lange, the former district president of Brunswick who also has been president of the “Volksbund deutscher Kriegsgräberfürsorge” (German War Graves Commission) has now written a letter to Valentia Sorokoletova, director of the museum in Volgograd, known to him from his work for the “Volksbund”. The letter is worth reading and distributing. Current Concerns feels that this document should also be known to its readers.
3 February 2018
retired district president,
34346 Hannoversch Münden
Volga-Don Canal Museum,
director Valentina Sorokoletova,
Volgograd, Russia, 400082
today it is 75 years ago that the remainders of the 6th army under General Paulus surrendered after months of heavy fighting. 500,000 soldiers on both sides and civilians – including many children – had lost their lives. I would have liked to be with you, among the ten thousands who have assembled in Volgograd to mourn and to commemorate. Because I know about the feelings of the veterans who not only celebrate a victory over the German aggressors but also remember the suffering, the dying and death itself who did not make a difference between soldiers and civilians, between women and children nor between Russians and Germans.
You have published numerous letters of young German soldiers from the Volgograd military museum who were sending a last greeting to their mother, facing a certain death. Letters which did not reach their destinations. In their grief, their courage and their consolation for their mothers, their words of farewell did not sound different from the letters of their Russian comrades who had joined these fights just as innocent, sacrificing their lives, because military command did not give them a choice.
And I remember the many conversations with Russian generals, officers and simple soldiers who met their German opponents with respect, reaching out their hand for reconciliation because they were very well aware of the distinction between the fascist leadership under Adolf Hitler and his aggression against the Soviet Union and the German soldiers and the German people.
Today I feel attached in deep grief to you, the people of Volgograd and the veterans, remembering our collaboration for the erection of the war cemeteries in Volgograd/Rossoshka and thankful for the bridges of reconciliation which we built for our peoples, bridges on which we could meet, old and young, embrace each other and vow that nothing and nobody would ever be able to dissuade us from this path of reconciliation, peace and collaboration.
President Putin’s 2001 address to the German Parliament whose members thanked him standing for this great speech was forming the symbolic cornerstone for this new peace order between our peoples and for Europe. It seemed like a dream had come true.
But today, on the 75th anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad, we are facing the ruins of this too short dream, in the middle of a new Cold War which is exclusively serving the interests of the US/NATO and which is setting out to destroy the forces of reconciliation, peace and collaboration between Russia and Germany by armament, by manoeuvres on Russia’s border and by economic sanctions.
But still, dear Valentina, in spite of all that, let us not fall into despair but hold on to our dream and use all our power to make sure that the forces of peace and reconciliation will prevail over the ghosts of the past which have returned from the depths of hell. We are committed to this persistent work by the memories of the battle, the military cemeteries in Stalingrad, the remembrance of the millions of victims of the Great Patriotic War and our responsibility for the young generation in our peoples who will rightly measure our political work by this question.
(Translation Current Concerns)
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