German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on citizens to more actively support liberal and democratic values amid the rise of the xenophobic movement and far-nationalist parties throughout Europe.
Speaking at a ceremony in Berlin to commemorate the victims of the Nazi regime, Steinmeier underlined that the surrender of the Nazi dictatorship 75 years ago today was liberation for Germany and the continent.
“In 1945 we were released. Today, we must free ourselves. From the temptation of a brand new nationalism. From attraction to authoritarianism. From distrust, isolationism and hostility between nations, “he said.
Steinmeier went on to say: “From the words of hatred and hatred, from xenophobia and insults to democracy – because they are nothing but old crimes in the guise of a new. On this May 8, we also commemorate the victims of Hanau, Halle and Kassel. They are not forgotten in the midst of COVID-19. “
Steinmeier underlined that maintaining freedom and democracy remains a never-ending task for all citizens.
“75 years after the war ended, we Germans must be grateful. But there have been no positive achievements since that date which is safe forever, “he stressed.
Germany has witnessed an increase in racism and xenophobia in recent years, fueled by propaganda by neo-Nazis and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Right-wing extremists killed a pro-refugee politician in Kassel, and attacked a synagogue in Halle last year, raising alarm for extreme right-wing terrorism.
In February this year, a right-wing extremist attacked two cafes in Hanau, killing nine people with a migration background.
Friday’s commemoration in Berlin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II was brought down because of the coronavirus outbreak and consequently the rules of social distance.
Chancellor Angela Merkel also attended the commemoration, along with Steinmeier and parliament speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble, who laid a wreath at Neue Wache, a central warning for victims of war and dictatorship.
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