Berlin - 70 Years After
Natalia MEDEN | 05.05.2015 | OPINION

Berlin - 70 Years After

The battle for Berlin was over on May 2. The garrison capitulated. The City Hall held a routine meeting in the building of Berlin Senate. Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier was the only high-profile politician to attend. Others found no time. The 70-year old events are painted in Germany as if there was no war, actually. 

Frankfurter Allgemeine told its readers a story about the battle for Cologne(Köln).One (!) German tank opposed the British liberators. The British soldiers resorted to a trick - they got into a trophy tank to be taken for Germans. The enemy did not open fire. That’s about a glorious victory held in Cologne. Steinmeier [1] avoided to call the event “the battle for Berlin”. If an alien got into the Senate building and heard the speech of the Foreign Minister, he would fail to understand what kind of war ended 70 years ago and if Germans had any guilt at all. True, he mentioned the extermination of Jews and the wonder of peaceful relationship established between Germany and Israel. Steinmeier remembered twice that Soviet soldier Ivan Alexandrov carved his name on the wall of a house. But he never mentioned the fact that Berlin was lying in ruins. Or the fact that the Wehrmacht soldiers defended the fortified capital to the last. Some in the Reich Chancellery hoped for the tide to turn till the very last moment. Some believed the rumors about a “wonder weapon” to be used as the last resort, systems like V-1 and V-2 flying bombs. For those who lost faith Field Marshall Ferdinand Schörner, the commander of Army Group Centre, issued an order telling them fight to the bitter end.  Theydid. Those who did not were accused of desertion and risked to be hanged by field tribunals that were easily handing down show trial verdicts. Michael Möller, the mayor of Berlin, made at least some explanations about the events of 1945. He said that “the place where the Soviet Guards Army staff was located makes us remember that the Soviet Union and its military liberated Germany and its capital.” [2]   

He knows the history well. His father Jürgen Möller and his neighbors tried to make the house a place of sightseeing. In 2009 they installed a new memorial plaque. Now people know that that is the place where General Helmuth Weidling met General Vasily Chuikov to surrenderon May 2, 1945. Since 1985 to 2009 there was another plaque here saying that a cease-fire agreement was signed at this place to end the battle for Berlin. Germans did not want to recognize the fact of capitulation. Late at night on May 1, General Hans Krebs, Chief of the Army General Staff, held 9-hour long talks on cease-fire at the staff of General Chuikov. TheSovietsidewantedcapitulation.  Helmuth Weidling signed the act. Krebs had committed suicide by the time.

Thanks to this house in Tempelhoff German politicians remember that the Soviet Army also liberated Berlin.

Berliner Zeitung asked readers a question if the Red Army soldiers should be honored on the date of the 70th anniversary since the end of WWII? [3]  The newspaper went into details depicting the cases of rape and plundering Soviet soldiers were engaged in.  Then the author of the article admitted that it was a liberation war for Soviet people defending their very lives as the German government wanted to relocate 50 million of them, make 10 million die of hunger  with a few million killed. There were plans to sterilize and enslave those who were left.   Berliner Zeitungtold about the Hitler’s Plan Ost without mentioning the document. Its original was not found, so the Plan Ost became a kind of a thing of the past. It may be completely forgotten soon.

The young German people are surprised to know that the racist Nazi ideology spread on other people, not the Jews only. They have a different education. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that her upcoming visit to Moscow on May 10 to honor the memory of millions of people who had been killed during World War II is very important despite existing disagreements between Berlin and Moscow. "To date, there is huge controversy between Russia and us [Germany], including the issue of what is happening in Ukraine. However, it is important to me to jointly lay wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on May 10 with Russian President," Merkel said in a video blog. Merkel added she wanted to pay tribute to the millions of victims of World War II who had been on the conscience of Germany. Perhaps she is sincere. That’s how remember the war those who were born and grew up in East Germany. Lieutenant General Vasily Chuikov (after the war he was promoted to the rank of Marshall of the Soviet Union) signed the act of capitulation in Berlin.  East Germany decorated him with the Patriotic Order of Merit, twice,   and the Grand Star of People’s Friendship. After Germany was united West Germans immediately started to consistently and thoroughly eradicate everything that offered any good memory about East Germany. I doubt that today German young people know that with the population of 16 million and without any natural resources, the East Germany’s had the 10th largest national income in the world.

Germany is not the only country where the history of Second World War has been reviewed. Theattemptstorewriteitcontinuetoday.  Lies and reticence may give rise to illusions that the horrors of those days cannot be repeated. Chuikov has gone through thick and thin and he has a right to teach us, his successors. According to him, the one who thinks about the past thinks about the future.  The one who talks about the future has no right to forget about the past.   Having gone through the fire of many battles   he has seen what a war is like. He said he had no wish for the horrors of war to be ever repeated. 



[1] http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Infoservice/Presse/Reden/2015/150502_Rede_BM_70_Jahrestag_Kriegsende_Berlin.html

 

[2] http://www.berlin.de/rbmskzl/aktuelles/pressemitteilungen/2015/pressemitteilung.306867.php

 

[3] http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/meinung/70--jahrestag-des-kriegsendes--wer-nicht-feiert--hat-verloren--ii-,10808020,30538136.html

 

Tags: Germany 

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